I’ve been doing a lot of work on myself lately, which has led me to read and watch a fair share of self-help material. A lot of it is nonsense, but I did find some valuable advice that I’ve been able to put to use. Said advice changed not only in the way I take care of myself, but also the way I view and treat my customers.
We are all just people, after all. You, me, our customers. Just human beings. Therefore, learning about ourselves can help us understand how people will behave in relation to our business.
How growth actually works
I heard a psychologist explaining how the first step of a journey is the hardest one. According to her, what a lot of people fail to realize is that going from 0 to 1 is often harder than going to 1 to 10.
That got me thinking about my customers. I run a small restaurant, and indeed, the journey from 0 to 10 regulars took a lot longer than the journey from 10 to 50 regulars.
It makes sense if you think about it. After all, there is a lot that a restaurant needs to get right in order to start earning customer trust. Your first customers will help you realize the flaws in your customer experience. Help you realize all the little ways in which reality doesn’t match with what you had planned before the business opened. Therefore, you use their actions, reactions, and feedback to adjust the course of your new business.
That is if you are doing things right, of course. And that’s the lesson here. Don’t wait until you have hundreds of customers to start fixing things. The first 10 and 100 customers are critical for your success. Not only because learning from them will ensure future success, but because bad word of mouth from your early customers can sink your business. Especially if they have a lot of influence on social media.
Goal oriented design
I saw a post on Anivda.com that got me thinking about how my restaurant presents its food options.
You see, for a while we made the mistake of thinking that more options would make our customers happier. Which is why we kept expanding the list items in our menu, with various portion sizes available at several prices.
That didn’t work very well.
Turns out people do want choices, just not too many of them. Unnecessary complexity can become overwhelming. Especially for customers who are a bit more anxious and a bit more introverted. Once, I heard a patron saying he ordered something just so the waiters would stop looking at him. That’s not good.
Seeing that made me take a step back and reflect on why we expanded the menu options in the first place. It made me think of another self-development lesson: that having a clear and well-defined goal is crucial for your success.
Clear goals are very important.
You can’t measure success or failure if you don’t have a goal. In this case, our goal was to have our customers enjoy a wider variety of meals, and we were failing at that.
With the complex menu, people often found one or two plates they liked and then started ordering the same thing every time. Exploring was a hassle.
Therefore, we decided to reduce the menu and make it clearer. We also implemented a special of the day system, which gave people who wanted to try something new a clear option for doing so — and a discount.
That got our patrons exploring, and sales have started picking up since. We got feedback from many of our regulars saying that the new specials system made them take a chance at proving something they’d never eaten before. In other words: mission accomplished.