Why Less is More When It Comes to Delighting Customers

This last Sunday I found myself at a popular Chinese restaurant in San Francisco, renown for their fried chicken wings. The customer experience is… um… strict. Prospective customers must sign up on a dry erase board and wait for their name to be called. Names are hurriedly called out by a hair-trigger host. If there’s no immediate response, he moves on (erasing the “no-show.”) If your name is erased, you start over at the bottom. It’s common for the list to exceed 30 names. Oh, and the interior waiting area only holds about six people. The wait regularly exceeds an hour and a half at peak times, so most people huddle outside.

Tamara and I pressed through the crowd and added our name to the waitlist. We then retreated back outside with the other hopefuls. This was our second attempt. We were novices the first time, and lukewarm, mediocre take-away from a neighboring restaurant was our consolation prize.

With over 6500 4/5 star reviews and so many delicious pictures, we had to taste these wings. We were not going to fail again! This time we had a strategy. Every minute or two, one of us squeezed inside to check our status. Our name slowly scaled the list. When we neared the summit, Tamara anchored herself just inside the door. She would signal me when our moment came.

Our plan came together and we earned our wings that night!

This experience got me pondering what it means to delight customers. The interior of this place is crowded, loud, and low budget. The staff, while friendly and helpful, is hurried. And many people fail at the seating system the first time. But in spite of all that, this place has been insanely popular for years and years.

It must be the wings that are bringing customers back again and again.

It’s easy to think that customers will be delighted by more choices, but most of the time, more choices just leads to more time, effort, and cost at lower quality. Fewer, but better is always superior.

But which are the right choices?

We can use the 80/20 principle to find the answer:

  • Which 20% of the offerings bring in 80% of the revenue?
  • Which 20% of the offerings can we do better than 80% of our competition?
  • Which 20% leads to 80% of the headaches?
  • Which 20% leads to 80% of the results?

Once we know what matters most, we can focus more and do it better.

And by the way, the chicken was delicious.

Feature photo by HawYu on Flickr.com

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