It’s universally acknowledged that good service will get you places. Whether selling an unnecessarily big screen television to a family or ice to Inuits, good service makes sales.

This said, there are exceptions to every rule and every so often in this world of increasing competition, there are business managers with seemingly decreasing nouse.

It’s no longer just about your product or service – it’s all about the experience.

Marketing encompasses all senses – sight, taste, touch, smell and sound. Combined, these make the experience. The experience that people will walk away with; the experience that – good or bad – people will talk about.

As marketeers, we work tirelessly to communicate your message on each of these levels. We study, we research and we have experience to hone you the best experience for your offering. Not everyone understands the importance - or relevance even - of marketing however… and it shows…

The experience I had over the long weekend involved a destination, a product, some “service” and two very unhappy customers. A friend and I visited Entertainment Quarter, a destination in Sydney’s Eastern suburbs close to Centennial Park and the SCG. We’re best friends; conversation’s always flowing and entertaining – whatever we choose to do when we’re together needs not steal the show. We’re happy with satisfactory service. It was raining which set the perfect scene for afternoon lemon meringue pie and coffee – holding the cream (I don’t do cream). We found an Italian dessert place. Perfect. Despite being sheltered by a makeshift tarp, the tables and chairs outside were wet. Our opting to sit outside, given Sydney’s humidity and a lack of air conditioning inside, was neither voluntarily noticed nor a reason for any of the staff to come outside to wipe down a table for us. We trawled the area and located the driest option. Before committing to our menu choices and ‘enjoying’ our experience, we elected for a quick restroom visit. “Excuse me Sir, where will I find your restrooms?” I asked politely, foolishly expecting a helpful response. Without looking up from the coffee he was pouring (and spilling onto the saucer), he grunted “left then left again”. Admittedly and in that beautiful thing we call hindsight, we should have left at this point. My friend and I searched the complex (the entire Entertainment Quarter as the venue was restroom-less) for the restrooms, reverting to public signage for directions seeing “left and left again” was both vague and inaccurate. On our return, we found our table, sat down and my friend went to the counter to order. She’s been my friend for 15 years and is very much aware of my distaste for cream. She ordered my ‘lemon meringue pie NO cream’ and strawberry crepes for herself with accompanying coffees. She also asked that, seeing there was no one else around and we were outdoors, if she could smoke. It wasn’t a ridiculous question given the tarp next to ours, belonging to the same business for savoury meals, was full of smokers. “Oh no, it’s not allowed”. “But your patrons under that shelter are smoking?”. “They’re not allowed”. Silly us. Of course we should have known…
My friend came and sat with me, cigarette-less, and casually factually relayed the conversation that transpired. Their credit card facilities were also not working – so the barista accused my card. Laughing it off and citing “it can’t actually get any worse”, my friend’s coffee came out. All over her saucer. No napkin, no apology. Having waited a minute or two for the waiter to return with a napkin seeing there were only two other patrons (probably also persevering with their dessert experience) to serve and we had a saucer with coffee all over it, my friend walked to the bar to get herself a napkin. She returned, sat back down, tidied up the waitperson’s mess and sipped her coffee which she then – very discretely - spat back out. Admittedly, we’re spoilt when it comes to coffee. We live close to the city where coffee culture is hip and happening and we’re surrounded by the likes of Surry Hills, Newtown and Alexandria. We do on the odd occasion though revert to instant coffee when we’re desperate. This coffee was bad.

Our desserts came. My lemon meringue pie was – needless to say – accompanied bycream and my friend’s strawberry crepes were empty with a drizzle of jam on the top. I, for the first time this experience, had had enough. I understood it was a public holiday and those forced to work in a café, in the rain, on a public holiday after a night out in Sydney were probably going to be less enthused than any other day. I also didn’t need anything more than what we ordered seeing the objective of the outing was to spend time with a friend - but this was ridiculous.

Wet tables. Inaccurate restroom directions. Attitude. Double standards. Coffee all over saucer. Inoperative credit card facilities. Unhelpful. Poor coffee-making skills. Cream on plate.

The experience you provide your customers is just as important, if not more important, than your product itself. There are reasons Apple and Haighs are where they are. Think about the experience you’re giving people. Invest in it. Otherwise you run that almost guaranteed risk of negative word-of-mouth – or worse – being blogged about. Thank you, Dolcetto, for providing a great example.

- Sofia Margelis
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Mellissah Smith

Mellissah Smith is a marketing expert with more than 20 years experience. Having founded and built two successful marketing companies internationally, she is well recognized as a industry thought leader and innovator. Mellissah started her career working with technology and professional services firms, primarily in marketing, public relations and investor relations, positioning a number of successful companies to list on the various Stock Exchanges around the world. She is a writer, technology developer and entrepreneur who shares her thoughts and experiences through blogs and written articles published in various media outlets. Brag sheet: #2 marketer to follow on Twitter (2003), Top 150 Marketers to Follow (2015), Top 10 innovative marketers (2014), 60K+ followers on Twitter with 97% authentic.

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