A tale of two yogurts

A tale of two yogurts

I was in Manhattan last week on a hot, humid and frizzy day. I passed several yogurt shops on my route and finally stopped into one. I settled on a small half coconut, and half cookies and cream with sprinkles. I was charged US$5 and handed a small cup with sprinkles on top. My first thought was, ”This is going to melt all over me as soon as I step outside into 95 degree heat with humidity that rivals any rainforest,” so I asked for a larger cup. I got one. Well, that’s the usual customer-service paradigm. You ask. You pay. You get. But like the song says: “Is that all there is … ?”

What could have happened that would have made this a great experience, win-win for all, instead of the usual mediocre, transaction-based commerce?

A great experience

  • Welcome me enthusiastically. Perhaps tell me the color of my T-shirt looks great on me. (Make me smile.)
  • Offer to put my purchase in a larger cup and explain that you know it is hot out there and you don’t want the stuff melting on my silk T-shirt.  
  • Mix the damn sprinkles in so I have joy throughout and I am not anxious that there will be no sprinkles for the last bite.
  • Offer me a “green” alternative like a cone. I may not want a cone, but the public relations is great.
  • When I bring in a friend who has never been there before, offer to upgrade my small to a medium size serving as a thanks for my referral.
  • If it is a self-serve yogurt shop, let me guess the weight for a free serving. It is fun and playful.
  • Offer me a punch card to keep me coming back (even if I lose it at the bottom of my bag). A free anything feels like a coup. Do what it takes to keep me returning to your yogurt place, as there are so many similar options. 
  • Make me a “yogee devotee” by use of guest history — learn my name and my favorite flavors. “Hey, Nanci, glad you came in out of the heat. I know you love coconut, but this peanut butter rocks.” New Yorkers especially stick close to their neighborhoods whenever possible. It makes sense to drive the business back to you.
  • If you know I run a hotel, offer to sell me yogurt coupons to reward my associates and their families.  
  • Have fun with your guests. This could be the best part of their day. When you make people feel good, they will be back. 
  • Keep some cool magazines around — get people hanging out to create energy. It will bring others in.  
  • Connect with me before I leave. Thank me profusely for my business or tell me a joke before I leave. “Leave ’em laughing,” as they say. It is possible to create an emotional connection to a yogurt shop because as with any operation, it is the people that make the difference.
I have just talked myself into getting another yogurt, but before I head out I’d like to share a few words I have been pondering lately that contain the word “serve” in them.

Observe: The more we know about our guests, the more we can personalize the service.  

Conserve: A green mentality benefits all. Avoid loss of what you care about. 

Deserve: We all deserve to be treated as if we were royalty passing through (only apply this one if you want repeat business and serious word of mouth).

Preserve: Protect that which is important to you.

And finally (How could I resist?) …

Soft serve: May your yogurt, gelato, ice cream or tofutti bring a smile to your face, create laughter in your heart and the understanding that you, more than any dessert in the world, can be the sweetest part of a person’s day.

Whatever you do, whomever you serve, make a difference.