Panera’s hidden menu: restaurant customer service consulting from the customer’s point of view

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Shhh–Don’t tell anyone:

Panera has a secret, “hidden” menu.

Should your business have a secret menu?

Well, maybe.

QR Code Magnet Touting Panera Hidden Menu

QR -code magnet touts Panera hidden menu

Like most things, this is worth looking at from the view of the customer.

On the one hand, if your company is as big and high-profile as Panera, it can come off as a little silly. Panera is a publicly traded company and little that they do* is really secret, or, as they put it, “hidden.” Customers are pretty much clued in that this isn’t really secret by the QR-coded magnet, the postings on Facebook, the info that comes up if you simply Google “menu.”

But it’s not easy to succeed in business without risking looking a bit silly, or at least playful, from time to time. This shouldn’t necessarily be a deterrent.

So let’s probe further into how making use of the hidden menu feels to a customer.

If you know about and are interested in one of the items on the hidden menu (mostly low-gluten, low carb, lowish calorie items), ordering from the hidden menu actually feels special. At least a bit. The hidden-menu concept allows you as a customer to share something insiderish with the employees,

And–and this is a huge thing in today’s world–it’s fast. Rather than doing a scene out of an Altman movie where you’re a Hollywood power player substituting out nearly every ingredient in the original recipe, you can order hidden menu item 2, or 4. Done.

Of course, most customers don’t want anything to do with the items on a secret menu. (If most people do want one of the hidden items, the item should be moved to the regular menu.). So it saves time for them not to have to go through these rarely-ordered items.

And of course, it keeps you on brand. Why would a haven for gluten lovers like Panera, which even has the word “bread” in its name, want to bring up the carb or gluten concept? It wouldn’t. Except if you are in need. And in the know.

*(Including, I’m sorry to say, alleged union-busting)

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Micah Solomon
Micah Solomon is a customer service consultant and trainer who works with companies to transform their level of customer service and customer experience. The author of five books, his expertise has been featured in Forbes, Fast Company, NBC and ABC television programming, and elsewhere. "Micah Solomon conveys an up-to-the minute and deeply practical take on customer service, business success, and the twin importance of people and technology." –Steve Wozniak, Apple co-founder.

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