I ate brunch at Max and Benny’s in the Chicago area this weekend, and ordered a Greek Omelet and a bagel.  When my meal arrived, the server also presented an attractive little shot glass of creamy pink stuff.  Here it is:
It elicited all sorts of oohs and ahhs from my family and everyone wanted to know what it was.  It was pleasing to the eye, unexpected, and a tasty sweet contrast to my rich and salty omelet.  We talked about it several times throughout the meal.  The sheer delight of this little smoothie lingered and I began thinking about it from a business perspective.

The effect of this sweet treat was huge.  The food was great, but the little smoothie was EXTRA. I thought: I didn’t order it and I didn’t ask for it, but the bonus part made me feel special – like they cared about their customers.  My appreciation for Max and Benny’s grew tenfold that morning, all over a simple smoothie.  In contrast, that afternoon I went to a chain for coffee and a pastry.  While there I got up from my table three times requesting a plate, three forks, and that they microwave my stale pastry back to life.  The two experiences made me think about what excellent customer service really looks like, how you provide it, and what a powerful impact it can make.

I’ve begun taking notice of other places where “little smoothies” are offered too.  Walk into a Trader Joe’s and they hand them out on every aisle.  Don’t want to buy a whole 6-pack of tonic water?  Then pull out a can from the bunch, silly!  Don’t like what you purchased?  Bring it back; no questions asked for a refund.  A few weeks ago, a mother and daughter stood in the checkout line, both with tears streaming down their faces.  The store manager gently approached them, offering them a bouquet of flowers for their really bad day.  In one Trader Joe’s visit, I might receive a whole smorgasbord of “little smoothies.”

The effect of my sweet treat, that  little smoothie,  still lingers.  It was a nice wake-up call to the value of customer service.  Some wake-up calls don’t feel so pleasant:  an illness, an accident, an unexpected departure, but what a joy to receive this delicious little wake-up call.  The little smoothie reminded me that customers are free to choose where they spend their time and money and how important it is to exceed expectations in surprising ways.

Each one of us can offer “little smoothies” by going beyond what is expected. Where do you like to go for “little smoothies?”  Who consistently delivers them and in what form do they present themselves?  How do these sweet treats affect your perception of that company?