Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Social Context:

Gerald Zaltman’s book “How Customers Think” brings into focus several aspects of the context in which the dining experience occurs and how that influences the experience.

The social context of eating has enormous impact on consumers’ experience. The experience includes how foods taste, what sounds seem pleasant or harsh, and what strikes a person as repulsive or appealing. The exact same dinner will taste different depending on whether one is dining with a close friend or an unpleasant stranger.”

If your guest’s frame of mind influences the perception of the dining experience, then what is a restaurateur to do? You can not put happy faces throughout the restaurant, can you? In a way you can. Servers always adjust the frequency and vigor of a table visit to the discussion that is occurring. If the guests need some space, an experience server picks up the clues and accommodates.

A guest in a happy frame of mind always seems to have a better dining experience than one in an unhappy frame. Make your place a happy one by doing the unexpected. Surprise you’re guest, smile, even if their frame is an unhappy one, reframe their experience. They came into your restaurant to solve an issue. Solve it for them and you will alter their experience regardless of the social context!