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‘Surprise and delight’ can improve NPS

14th March 2016

What can an operator do to recover a guest? How can you turn a would-be detractor into a promoter (‘Net promoter score‘ speak) leaving your guest surprised and delighted?

I’d like to share a recent experience of a girls lunch with you, which I thought would be an average experience. At the very end of the experience however, I was left stunned.

The 4 of us headed to Cote brasserie in Wimbledon. We arrived promptly for our table booking at 2.15pm to a busy restaurant. We were shown to our table and whilst we de-robed and got ourselves comfortable, almost immediately 2 bottles of filtered tap water were placed on our table along with the menus. Whilst this pleased me, this display of efficient service would not have, alone, turned me into a passionate enthusiast.

We chatted, ordered, had a glass of bubbly and waited for our food. When our food arrived, we all tucked in hungrily. My sister, who had ordered a fillet steak, cut it open to be perturbed that it was too rare for her liking. I called the waitress over and pointed out that the steak had been requested medium and asked if they could cook it a little longer. The waitress swiftly removed the plate to honour the request.

When the steak returned there was a fresh pot of french fries to accompany the steak which was a nice touch. We noted that the steak had taken some time to return, in fact I’d polished off my fishcakes by the time the steak came back. Nonetheless, she tucked in and enjoyed her meal.

After we’d all finished our mains, we ordered 2 desserts and a couple of coffees before asking for the bill.  I remember thinking to myself; what would I score if someone was to ask me the NPS question:

“How likely are you to recommend us to your friends and family?”

At this point in time, my score would have been a solid 8. We had all enjoyed our meals and the service had been friendly and efficient, but nothing out of the ordinary and it wasn’t particularly nice for my sister having to eat her meal after the rest of us. What happened next turned me from being quite non-committal about this eaterie into a fan and, importantly a recommender of the establishment, to the point of writing a blog post about it!

The waiter came over to deliver the bill and announced that as the steak had not been cooked to our liking, the creme brulee dessert was complimentary. Instantly this news was met with “oh wow!” and gushings of “thank you so much!” I was simply stunned. This simple action had put a huge smile on my face and in one swoop turned me from a passive into a promoter. If there was a moment that could be described in a training course on ‘how to surprise and delight your guest’, this would be it!

Knowing what I know about hospitality and the importance of NPS and it’s measure of loyalty and recommendation, I could not stop thinking about it. I realised that this type of gesture can be used to recover a guest who may have had a negative experience but it’s relative to the guest’s expectation. We did not expect a freebie so this is what impressed us so much. The surprise and delight element of what occurred really had a positive impact on me and got me thinking of the power of this on improving an NPS score or recovering a guest. How can an operation benefit from this?

Ultimately, if you are an operator, you should invest time in developing ‘surprise and delight’ policies. This is not an overnight job but something that will take time and thought, but it’s worth it, as you are letting your guests know that you really do care. The end result is your NPS will improve and in turn, you will reap the benefits.