[Entrepreneurs Beware] Smartphones Kill Customer Service

Entrepreneurs Beware-NY Restaurant Comparison Chart
Entrepreneurs find opportunity in change. We share some ideas in this BIGG Success Show Podcast. Click play to listen to George & Mary-Lynn

The entrepreneur behind a busy New York restaurant wondered why they kept getting bad reviews. So they hired an outside consultant who suggested they review surveillance video.

They found a tape from ten years ago and compared it to a similar recent day. The entrepreneur posted the results anonymously on Craigslist.

We created a table above to show their findings side-by-side:

Entrepreneurs beware! These results are staggering. Smartphones are killing customer service. Here are the details:

Notes for Entrepreneurs

1) Different seat
Customers are more demanding than ever. Ten years ago, only about 7% (3 of 45) of this entrepreneur’s customers requested a different seat. Today, 40% (18 of 45) do.

Meanwhile – customer service levels seem to be falling as many businesses try to make do with less people or fewer labor hours.

It spells o-p-p-o-r-t-u-n-i-t-y for entrepreneurs dedicated to the customer experience! We’ll talk about this more below.

2) Time to place order
Smartphones distract customers. Ten years ago – it took a customer just 8 minutes to order after they had been seated. Now it takes over twice as long, 18 minutes. Here’s why:

A server brought the customer a menu. 7 of the 45 say they are having trouble connecting to the restaurant’s WIFI. The server spent 5 minutes helping them.

How do you signal your server that you’re ready to order? A closed menu. In this case, it usually meant the customer hadn’t opened the menu yet. They were too busy with their phone. The customer asked for more time.

The server made three trips to the table before the customer orders. Their phone generally never leaves their hand.

3) Food returned
The server began delivering food in about 6 minutes. This is the same timeframe as 10 years ago. But now, of the 45 customers:

  • 26 spent 3 minutes taking photos of the food
  • 14 took pictures of each other with the food
  • 27 asked their server to take a group photo
  • 14 of these 27 weren’t happy with the photo and asked the server to retake it

In total, customers spent 4 minutes taking photos themselves. Servers spent 5 minutes taking photos instead of serving other customers.

Guess what happened in the meantime? Their food got cold! So 9 of the 45 sent it back. Only 2 did so 10 years ago.

4) Exit time
10 years ago – after paying their bill, a customer left in 5 minutes. Now, they play on the phone and don’t leave for 20 minutes.

Incidentally, they’re so busy looking at their phone – as they exited the restaurant, 8 of the 45 bumped into other customers or servers.

5) Total time
Little things make BIGG differences. Time has a nasty habit of ticking away. It takes almost twice as long for this restaurant to turn a table today, compared to 10 years ago (1:55 versus 1:05 respectively).

Entrepreneurs Need Smart Tactics

The entrepreneur concludes: “We are grateful for everyone who comes into our restaurant, after all there are so many choices out there. But can you please be a bit more considerate?”

The two of us always remember the three rules of customer service:

Rule 1: The customer is always right.
Rule 2: If the customer is ever wrong, re-read Rule 1.
Rule 3: The customer is not always reasonable.

Perhaps we need to add “or considerate” to Rule 3. As we said earlier, customers are more demanding than ever. Apparently, they want to spend their dining experience with their smartphone.

You can ask them not to do it. But we doubt the request will be honored.

We wonder how they’ve stayed in business. With the time to turn a table at double what it was ten years ago, have they raised their prices?

So what can they do? Here are a few thoughts:

  • Hire a digital concierge

This is the “if you can’t beat them, join them” strategy. Bring on a staff member dedicated to digital.

They could check in with customers soon after they’re seated to make sure they’ve been able to access WIFI.

Once their food arrives, they could go to the table to take a group photo. Further, they could remind people to check in on Foursquare, solicit “likes” on Facebook, etc.

  • Limit the choice

Think of this as “an object in motion stays in motion” strategy. For example, you may offer a “daily deal” on a few appetizers. The customer can make a quick choice. You get the food coming their way quicker.

Instead, you may test a limited menu – customers could “pick one” from a short list in each category: appetizer, soup or salad, entrée, dessert.

  • Promote digital-free dining

Consider this the “take up a cause” strategy. You want to encourage experiences, instead of recordings of experiences. You want to be an oasis from the hyper-busyness.

Obviously, this won’t appeal to everyone. That’s the beauty of it – you’ll naturally attract like-minded customers. You may test it at certain times of the day to start.

Note the divergence between the first strategy and the last. They’re polar opposites! One encourages digital while the other denies it.

Entrepreneurs get to choose. Which works best for your customers?

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file | podcast:

What every entrepreneur must know for BIGG Success

2 Things Every Entrepreneur Must Know Today

What every entrepreneur must know for BIGG Success

Listen to this post! Click play to hear George & Mary-Lynn on The BIGG Success Show Podcast (Duration 4:38)

Entrepreneurs need to know more than ever. But when it comes to marketing yourself and delivering an exceptional experience to your customers, every entrepreneur must know two things: know your expertise and know experts.

Know your expertise

First, every entrepreneur needs to know your expertise. It may be what you know or what you can do.

There’s a subject which you know more about or a skill which you can perform better than 99% of the people on the planet.

It seems like a high standard – to say you’re in the top 1% in knowledge or skill. But it really isn’t, especially if you practiced a craft for awhile.

The fact is: Most people don’t know much about most things. Most people can’t do most things well.

That’s not an insult – it’s just recognizing reality. The world is complex. No one can master everything. So focus on mastering one thing.

What is that for you?

Stated differently, what are you known for? Or want to be know for?

This is the key – not just knowing your expertise, but being known for your expertise.

When you know your expertise and stick to it, you can serve your customers like no one else. You can rise above your competitors.

But you can’t stop there – as one of our coaches often reminds us:

There are plenty of undiscovered geniuses
but there are no undiscovered marketers!

So you know what you’re an expert at. Make sure others know it too. Then you can help more people in that way only you can. Don’t they deserve it?

We’re hitting at one of the reasons why every business owner, professional and startup entrepreneur needs a brand today – so you become the go-to guy or gal.

Knowing your expertise is part of forming your brand, which helps you find your focus and stay focused. You have boundaries. You know how you can help.

Know experts

Just as importantly, you know when you can’t help. In those cases, every entrepreneur needs to know experts.

Obviously, experts can help you build your business. That’s why we constantly work with one or more coaches.

But as an entrepreneur, you need to know experts who can help your customers with services related to yours.

You’re the pro in your area. They’re the pros in their spaces. You and your team do your thing; they do theirs with their team. It’s a team of teams.

You serve your respective customers better, so they win. You and your fellow experts both make more money, more dependably. So everybody wins. That’s BIGG success!

What’s your expertise?

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file | podcast:

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the danger of customer acquisition

Why Customer Acquisition is Dangerous

the danger of customer acquisition

Listen to this post! Click play to hear George & Mary-Lynn on The BIGG Success Show Podcast (Duration 5:48)

Is it dangerous to think about customer acquisition? We say yes – it may have been fine in the past but the best customers today can’t be acquired.

[George] As a money guy, I loved it when I first heard the term “customer acquisition.” I could easily wrap my mind around the concept. But I’ve come to realize it’s a way of thinking which hurts the bottom line today.

We think the concept is dangerous because you can’t “acquire” customers. They can’t be bought. They can’t be owned.

[George] I learned that the hard way: My biggest customer replaced us, but not with a competitor. They got bought out and the new owners brought the service we had been providing in-house. They did it themselves.

If you’re with us – if you agree that customer acquisition is a dated concept, what can you do?

Read more

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A Key for Success in Business

key for success in business | BIGG SuccessWe witnessed the decline of a successful business first-hand. Some details have been changed to protect the guilty.

Listen to this post! Click a player to hear George & Mary-Lynn on The BIGG Success Show Podcast. (Runtime 5:15)

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[haiku url=”″ title=”The BIGG Success Show #793″]
It was a one-of-a-kind, upscale restaurant in our area of approximately 300,000 people. Business was good, but the owner thought she should be doing more.

She ended up making a critical mistake. She changed to a more mainstream menu and reduced prices.

Unfortunately, this move put her squarely in competition with a number of other restaurants, including several chains.

As in most areas, the restaurant business is highly competitive in our area. We’ve been ranked near the top of dining out per capita consumption. But we’ve also been ranked way up there in terms of number of restaurants per capita.

So when the owner made the changes, she went from being one-of-a-kind to being one-of-many. The result was that she ended up closing the restaurant.

You see this all the time. You can miss the boat when starting a new business. You may get it wrong when running your own business. It’s a critical key to success in business.

Popularity versus profitability

You must keep in mind the huge difference between popularity and profitability.

You can be a success in business without being popular.
But you can’t be a success in business without being profitable.

Profit is not a dirty word! It’s a necessity.

Without profit, you won’t be able to sustain your current level of sales in the future.

You need profit to repay any loans you have.
Profit provides the capital to grow your business.

Without profit, you won’t be able to give your people raises and other perks.

Without profit, the BEST you can expect is to remain stuck right where you are.

As humans, we have a desire to be popular. We want to fit in. We want to be admired and respected. There’s nothing wrong with that per se. But this emotional desire for popularity may kill your business!

Let’s talk about three ways that may happen.

This desire to be popular may keep you from honing in on your ideal customer.

The restaurateur we mentioned earlier had an upscale crowd. She wanted more customers so she toned it down.

Unfortunately, she lost her best customers chasing after customers who didn’t spend as much.

A lower average ticket, coupled with lower profit margins, killed her business.

You can and should love your customers. You want your customers to love you. But you want the right customers to love you.

Wanting to be popular may lead you to charge too little.

We’ve already hinted at this. People are smart. They like a good deal.

If you price your products and/or services below your total cost, you will be popular. You’ll also find that, the more popular you are, the more money you’ll lose!

It’s far better to have fewer customers who gladly pay you what you’re worth.

Provide what a select group of customers want or need and you’ll create more value for them. Then price your product and/or service accordingly.

You may not be as popular, but you most certainly will be more profitable.

The desire to be popular may keep you from making tough internal choices.

For example, entrepreneurial leaders can’t afford to make personnel decisions based on popularity. You must make choices based on who is best suited to help you get to your destination.

It leads to BIGG success!

Want to maximize your profitability? Maybe we can help.

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file | podcast:

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Entrepreneurs and Squirrels Who Cross the Road

a squirrel and his nut | BIGG SuccessWe’ve had an abundance of squirrels in our neighborhood this fall. Entrepreneurs can learn a lot from these furry creatures about storing up a hoard for winter and business cycles.

We were on our way to the grocery store not long ago. In the middle of the road, a squirrel had apparently stopped with its nut in his paws.

We don’t know what happened. We just know he didn’t make it.

Shortly thereafter, another squirrel ran across the road in front of us, with a huge nut in its mouth. We hit the brake hard to avoid hitting it.

It made us wonder:

Why did the squirrel cross the road?

Why did his friend give his life for a nut?

We returned home from our shopping excursion and took a break on our patio. Two squirrels scampered through our backyard – one squirrel chasing the other one.

Apparently, the smaller squirrel had wandered into unfriendly territory. He ran back across the street into familiar turf. Fortunately, he made it back home safely.

What can entrepreneurs and small business owners learn from these squirrels?

Risk increases when you cross the street to chase nuts.

Many entrepreneurs and small business owners focus too much on new customers in new territories.

New is exciting.

New gets the juices flowing.

New feels like progress.

But chasing nuts on the other side of the street means going up the learning curve. It requires taking more risk.

The most successful entrepreneurs are excellent risk managers. They know that “new” comes with more risk.

Larger, more established competitors are lurking. They will guard their turf vigorously. They will try to chase you away as soon as they learn about you.

And there are market forces which you may not fully understand at first. These vehicles can run you over, even when you’re feeling elated by finding a huge nut.

The most successful entrepreneurs devote more resources to growing relationships with existing customers. And looking for more customers nearby – customers who are just like the ones they already serve.

Of course, sometimes you do have to cross the road. But most of the time it’s better to focus on the nuts in your own backyard. It leads to BIGG success!

Would you like to make more money, more dependably? Maybe we can help.

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