Trust These 5 Customer Experience Lessons from Eating Sushi

Customer experience is all about the interactions between customers and brands. These days many brand focus on this experience across online and offline channels, but these are some thoughts on any interaction between a customer and a brand.

Brands stand for something, or they represent something in the minds of consumers, and the result of every experience is how well the brand lived up to those expectations. The more times a brand meets those expectations, or even exceeds them, the more loyal a consumer becomes.

Think about your favorite brands: cars, clothes, toothpaste, restaurants, sneakers, airlines. You know what to expect and usually you get it. Remember that time your toothpaste added crystals and it just wasn’t the same. You even thought about changing to another brand.

I recently had lunch at a sushi restaurant while traveling and sat at the counter. This gave me great insight into how they think about customer experience.

1. Trust Me

We are used to making choices in restaurants. We pick the food that we like. But in this restaurant we are encouraged to follow the chef’s selection. It is actually called the Trust Me menu. Our only choice is small, medium, or large, which determines the number of items you get. Whether you know about this menu before you arrive, you are encouraged to put your full trust in the chef to serve food that you will like.

When was the last time that your customers put their full trust in you for selecting what they should purchase from you? Think about what it would take to earn that level of respect from your customers.

2. Trust Me Even More

There is a note on the menu that says you should consume your food exactly as it is served. No extra salt. No extra sauce. No extra rice. Again, this is an even more granular level of trust and respect for the chef. Not only does he know what is best for you, but he recommends that you don’t make any changes to what he has provided.

Customers make all kinds of modifications to products they purchase from us. Can you set customer expectations that the experience you are providing cannot be improved upon?

3. We Are Doing Our Part

The chef has said here’s what you should eat and how you should it, but he takes it one step further. He tells you when you should eat it. Immediately. This is food prepared very precisely and served that way. Every dish is a mix of temperatures and textures that will change with time. Because of this, every server is moving fast. Food doesn’t sit in the window. It comes up and goes out. This is not so unusual in many restaurants, or even most restaurants, but if you’re getting 7-10 small plates served individually and at a certain time, that’s a lot of serving.

Are you doing absolutely everything you can to hold up your end of your customers’ expectations? If they are putting their trust in you, are you really doing your part?

4. Preparation is the Key

This level of service is not an accident. There’s no way to serve all these plates without a great deal of preparation. Nothing is left to chance. That goes for all the ingredients, plates, even people. I’m sure this restaurant was just as busy in preparation in the hours before lunch as they were during lunch.

If your customers showed up to your business an hour before your meeting or two hours before you opened to the public, what would they find? Are your people paying just as much attention to preparation as they are to your customers?

5. Instant Gratification is Just That

As soon as I placed my order, my server put a bowl of edamame in front of me. This took the edge off my hunger and gave me something to do while waiting for my food. It also prevented me from wondering where my food was. This made me happy and distracted. And there was no fear of filling up on soybeans. My parents always warned us kids not to fill up on bread.

Do you have something that you can give your customers immediately upon their purchase, assuming that they are not walking out the door with their purchase? This is exactly the kind of thing that influences their experience and keeps them loyal.

This post originally appeared on the Modern Marketing blog.

Jeffrey L Cohen

Jeffrey L Cohen