A story about how doing less and adding a bit of theatre created a memorable customer experience

Scourie Hotel

My wife and I recently returned from a trip where, using a hired motor-home, we toured the North Coast 500, a recently established driving route covering some of the most northerly parts of Scotland.

The trip was fantastic.

On one of the nights we pulled into a campsite in for the night and went looking for a place to eat.

We stumbled upon the Scourie Hotel and enquired if they had a restaurant in the hotel.

They said that they did and explained that dinner was served shortly after 730pm and was from a three course set menu. Assured that the food was great, we booked a place.

Returning to the hotel just before 730pm, we found that we couldn’t yet enter the dinning room and were asked to wait in the lounge.

Then, on the stroke of 730pm, one of the waiters entered the lounge, struck a gong and announced that dinner was now being served and that we could now enter the dining room.

Slightly bemused, myself and my wife proceeded to enter the dining room and we were then shown to our seats.

Shortly afterwards, our waitress provided us with a menu from which we ordered some wine and our food, from three choices of starter, main course and desert.

The food, wine and service were great and we thoroughly enjoyed our meal.

Now, whilst our dinner seemed to be over in a flash, we never felt rushed. And, on finishing our meal we were then invited, along with the other guests, to help ourselves to tea and coffee in the lounge.

We passed on the tea and coffee and returned to our motor home, where we retired for the night.

At this point, you might be asking about the point of this story and what lesson we can learn from it about customer experience and customer service.

Well, reflecting on our experience later it occurred to me that the folks at the Scourie Hotel had done something quite different and pretty smart.

By opting to reducing the amount of variety on their menu, they were not only able to speed up their operations but they were also able to focus them and, in turn, reduce the possibility of any food waste, a perennial problem for the restaurant industry.

Moreover, by focusing on a limited number of dishes they were able to focus on delivering a higher level of quality of food.

Finally, by adding a little bit a theatre (i.e. the set dining time, the process and the use of the gong), they added a little something extra and something that both enhanced the whole experience and made it much more memorable.

Overall, I believe, the lessons that we can draw from our experience at the Scourie Hotel is that when it comes to delivering a memorable customer experience…..more is not always better and, in fact, doing (or offering) less can, if presented well enough, feel like more. Moreover, adding a bit of theatre or personality can go a long towards differentiating experiences that can quickly become homogenized.

 

 

This post was originally published on Forbes.com here.

Thanks to John Ferguson for the image.

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