Cooking up an experience

Three essential ingredients of customer experience

I recently joined a bunch of awesome girlfriends on our annual cooking weekend. These weekends include great connections, food, wine, laughter and even crying. We normally have a cooking demonstration by some or the other foodie and the rest of the meals are divided amongst teams who are responsible to cook for all of us. These are always culinary explosions as all these girls can cook up a storm! We always choose an interesting destination somewhere in the countryside.

This year we hooked up in the Karoo where we were based in an off-the-beaten-track, spectacular Karoo Eco-lodge. The lodge was remote but surrounded by magical vast scenery of Karoo-beauty, and despite the lockdown, all of us yearned to reconnect with each other and nature at a remote place – away from the business of our lives.

Karoo Eco-Lodge
Nestled in the vast beauty of the Karoo

So what’s this all got to to with customer experience?

Reflecting on the entire experience, I was left with a complete sense of fulfilment, rejuvenation and wellbeing. And this sparked the connection that it perfectly describes how customer experience can be defined!

#1 The experience planning is intentional

One of us take on the planning and co-ordinating, including the sourcing and selection of the venue, the potential cooking instructor, the theme and the logistics. The outcome is quite clear in that the experience should enhance everyone’s passion for food and connection as women. So the planning is done quite intentionally and every element is considered to meet all of our needs.

#2 Everyone takes responsibility towards to overall experience

Every cooking team plans, sources recipes, purchase the ingredients and dress the table with a unique theme. The planner does not have to take on the delivery in the moment, everyone play their part.

#3 Consideration of all touch points and moments that matter

As we all know, a holiday starts way before one reaches the beach! Part of the holiday include the planning, making the arrangements and getting excited… and then the holiday itself filled with moments to remember. So a hotel’s customer journey design will include all of these steps to enhance one’s holiday memories.

In our case every step of the annual journey is considered, and much excitement is created through using our whatsapp group – including sharing of ideas, photos, and inspiring messages. There is a build-up leading to the weekend and during the weekend, everyone contributes to the capturing of special moments on camera, especially the delightful dishes.

Every team carefully plans their meal and delivery to ensure that everyone has an amazing time. For instance, this year we had “padkos” on route, with a touch of style. Frikkadels, boiled eggs and sarmies does not crack it for this foodie group. Our padkos team provided picnic blankets, alcohol-free, ice cold gin and tonic (driving), individually packed containers with a Libanese wrap filled with an interesting pasta-pesto-tomato salad, topped off with home made biscuits (grandmother’s recipe) wrapped as a gift.

This pit stop was a moment that mattered and it was carefully considered – where to sit, where to stop (safety), on-the-go consumption, ice cold refreshments, serving portions, presentation, and comfort. All of these elements contributed to the overall experience at that touchpoint and moment.. and to the end-to-end experience.

Individually packed delightful meal
Dessert wrapped as a gift including a hand written label

The surprise and appreciation for creating something, literally “out-of-the-box” left a lasting impression, and set the tone for the weekend.

This same principle applies to planning customers’ experience throughout their journey with your brand.

On our return, all of us feel re-connected, re-energised and inspired. I for one immediately try out some of the new recipes after the trip. We learn, laugh, cry, eat drink, share and talk, and make everyone feel valued and special.

Is this how you think about planning your customers’ journey?

How do they remember the time spent with you?

We are all human and need to feel like we matter. How do you reward your customers for choosing you to share their time, money, hearts and soul?

Connect with us at the Consumer Psychology Lab for recipes to create and serve your own version of culinary delight for your customers.

www.consumerlab.co.za [email protected]

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