A friend and I wandered down to our local cafe for lunch, after church on Sunday.

Now the local cafe isn’t all that flash, but the occasion was more about catching up than the food, so that was fine. Little did I think that this experience would blow me away…….  But it did! 

The café is in our local shopping centre, in one of the outer suburbs of Sydney.  It probably seats 80 and in a lunchtime each table would turn over two or three times. It’s not a hip and happening place, in fact it’s about as suburban as you can get.  It does a good trade with locals popping in for lunch or a coffee and can be hired out in the evenings for events.

It’s not designed as a fine dining experience but the food is good and the service friendly.  A family runs it and one of them is always there during the week.  On Sunday they are the only staff other than the Chef – to save on overtime.

That Sunday we had just had a hailstorm roll through the suburb and clouds were building for what looked to be a big storm.  There is underground parking at the shopping centre and it looked like many people had the same idea as us – catching up without getting too wet!  It was busier than usual and the family were rushed off their feet.

I ordered a soft drink with my lunch and when our meals arrived I reminded the Father that I had not received it.  He apologised profusely and returned straight away with the drink.  We ate our meals slowly amidst lots of laughter and catching up.

We both agreed to bypass desert – tempting though it was – and go straight for the coffee.  So we ordered the coffees and continued deep in conversation. It was some time later that I realised we had not received our coffee order and the family were all seated relaxing after the lunchtime rush.  So I caught the Father’s eye and reminded him of our order.

We hadn’t been waiting all that long and were not the slightest bit annoyed by the delay but his reaction blew me away.  This is what he did:

  • He apologised profusely for leaving us waiting a second time (I was impressed he even remembered the first because it had been a busy meal service)
  • He asked if he could treat us to a desert – we didn’t want one but agreed to share a banana crepe between the two of us as we were still quite full
  • He returned with not one but two deserts beautifully presented and with both cream and ice cream and our coffees

And that blew me away!

You see we had not been the slightest bit annoyed.  There was no anger or frustration to placate, no reputation to protect, no word of mouth nightmare to head off at the pass.  We had just reminded him about our coffee.

But he took the opportunity to far exceed our expectations.  Not only did he apologise and remedy the situation quickly on each occasion, he brought us not one but two deserts “on the house”.  And did so with grace and a bit of aplomb!

He decided to make us a desert each – one banana and one mango crepe.  He took into account the fact that we had already confessed to being quite full and so there was only one crepe on each plate, with cream and icecream and the name of the café piped in maple syrup.

How much did this cost him?  Not much at all.  A bit for the ingredients, no extra time for staff and a bit of effort.

What was the payoff?  Enormous.  I would have told 15 people since then of my experience there.

What could you do to delight your clients or customers?  Imagine if you treated all your clients with such grace and generosity – what effect would that have on your business.

My challenge to you today is to think of one thing you could do that would cost very little but have a large impact on the delight felt by those buying from you.

Or perhaps you have a story of being delighted by a supplier.  I would love to hear from you.

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