Bringing the voice of your customers into your boardroom and working practices

Cracker for One Day

 Experience and Experiential Labs

December 12th is known as 'Cracker for One Day' at RBL and is something we acknowledge every year as it keeps us on our CX toes.

About 6 years I was visiting a client and staying over at a lovely hotel set outside the town in lovely open grounds.

With it being almost Christmas, the team were flat out and so I decided that rather than heading out for dinner with me, we should all go home on time. I was tempted by room service and a film. I wasn't driving so had accepted a lift from one of the staff members who lived locally.

When I checked into the hotel, I was advised there was no room service offering, only restaurant service that night. The local taxi service was very busy and there were no taxi's available for over an hour.

So, I headed down to the restaurant.

The hotel's intention was that guests would enjoy a festive meal. They'd designed a 3-course menu with a beautifully dressed dining room and with Christmas crackers on every table.

The planned experience was one of fun and festivities with an expected audience of large groups of diners.

However, that night in the dining room I was one of just two guests.

We each sat at a table on our own and plodded our way through three courses.

There was no-one to pull our crackers with and the whole experience was deeply uncomfortable. Too many waiting staff on duty, more food than was required and no alternatives options available.

The CX learning I took back to the office was that whatever the expectations on service, things may not always go to plan.

A glance at the hotel and restaurant bookings (the data) should have informed the team and enabled them to change their thinking and plans.

They could have looked at costs in advance and made adjustments - did they need 6 staff including a dedicated wine waiter on shift for two individual diners, neither of whom were drinking? Was the menu right for solo diners (personally I didn't want a celebratory three-course dinner) - do solo restaurant diners often eat three courses?

Instead, the hotel ploughed on regardless with their plan and the delivered customer experience was cringeworthy. It was far from what they hoped and planned for.

Whilst we encourage our clients to have a plan (strategy) and applaud those that do, we always apply the 'cracker-for-one' test - lets ensure that there are various KPIs that are built in and checked regularly to ensure that the planned experience is the one that's likely to be delivered. If not, the plan can be changed.

Ideally, those changes are anticipated in advance and a Plan-B or even Plan-C is implemented.

So that's our gift to you this festive season - the cracker-for-one test!

Merry Christmas.

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