Thursday, May 19, 2016

Rotten Bananas: Prioritizing Customer Concerns and Creative Problem Solving

If you combine banana liqueur, rum, brown sugar, cinnamon, butter, glimmering flames, vanilla ice cream, and bananas, the end result is one of my favorite desserts—Bananas Foster. (My mouth is salivating even as I write this!) Those who have enjoyed this delicious treat have probably also experienced the crave-enhancing tableside preparation—the aroma of butter, brown sugar and cinnamon combined over an open flame, the scent enhanced by the addition of the banana liqueur, and, of course, the igniting of the rum for dramatic effect. 

I visited my favorite Bananas Foster establishment on a recent trip. Every time I visit this particular city, I go to this steakhouse for the Bananas Foster. It’s just that good. This trip, I meticulously planned when I would go, balancing out my schedule and other eating engagements to maximize my anticipated enjoyment of this decadent dessert.

When I arrived, though, my excitement quickly faded. My waiter told me that, due to the very busy night, the steakhouse was not serving Bananas Foster. Naturally, I was less than happy with the situation, and tried not to look disdainful when offered other desserts and told to come back the next night.

My negative feelings quickly morphed into creative problem solving. While I understood that the steakhouse may not want to have open flames throughout the dining room on such a busy night, I would have happily given up the tableside preparation. I would have still enjoyed the dessert if it had been made in the kitchen (alongside the other desserts that were being offered). I am sure the restaurant had other reasons that I was not privy to, but as the customer, I left feeling that the steakhouse hadn’t tried hard enough. 

As a business owner, or someone that works for a business, this is a feeling that you never want your customers to have.

Ultimately, what my experience demonstrated was that it is critically important to keep the main concerns of the customer at the forefront. For me, eating Bananas Foster was my top priority. While tableside preparation is fun, it is not essential. Had the steakhouse simply made my dessert in the kitchen, I would have been a happy customer. But, alas, I was instead left with a rotten taste in my mouth.

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