What a Ramen Noodle Shop Can Teach You About Customer Experience

 

Do you celebrate your best staff?  And do you do it publicly? Here’s a group that serves as a great model.

We always drive to the family cabin in Maine.  This year we stopped by Toronto on our way home, and I let my daughter Becca determine our itinerary for our half-day visit.  Becca has loved travel since the day she was born, so naturally she chose to take us to Chinatown.  As we wandered around we found this fantastic Japanese Ramen restaurant, Ajisen Ramen.  I highly recommend  a visit, as both the food and staff were excellent. But this isn’t a travel or restaurant blog.  What can we learn about customer experience that can apply to call center managers, grocery store leaders, travel agents or other customer experience pros?

What struck me most was Ajisen’s approach to their customer satisfaction survey.  Rather than asking a 5-, 7-, 10- or 11-point rating of satisfaction, loyalty, likelihood to recommend, etc., they do something different. Instead, they ask you to vote for the Best of the Best among their staff.  Check out their questionnaire.  They also promote the program through the poster at the entrance to the restaurant.

 

As Becca just asked me, “What can you learn from a Ramen Noodle Shop?”  Plenty!

  1. Be absolutely clear on what your measurement program is trying to accomplish.  The researcher in me cringes a bit, as this program is clearly not designed to be a scientifically accurate measurement that lets you compare results between locations.  But that’s okay, so long as that is a deliberate choice, as it clearly is here.
  2. A well-designed customer engagement program can improve your employee engagement. Imagine receiving the “Best of the Best Staff” award. This program offers a clear way to celebrate employees.  Gallup’s research shows that the one item most employees need is more recognition.  This program is clearly targeted right at this need
  3. Incentives don’t have to be huge.  The incentives here are relatively modest.  But that works, so long as:
  4. You can make your customer experience program fun! While this program offers insight into which employees do the best job of engaging customers, it also engages the customer in the process.

Where can you use this, besides a Ramen shop?  Anywhere where your customers experience your staff!  This approach can also work in a call center (“Vote for the Best of the Best in the Call Center staff”), a library (“Best of the Best Librarians!”), or even a school (“Best of the Best Lunch Lady”).  So long as your culture supports the tongue-in-cheek approach (a significant requirement), this can work for you.

And you don’t even have to eat Ramen for it to work.

(Editor’s Note: Sorry for the lack of posting lately, but I’ve recently joined Satisfaction Management Systems, had a vacation to Maine, and been preparing for my upcoming keynote.  But don’t worry, fearless readers – there’s a backlog of customer experience thoughts and ideas about to be unleashed!)