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Making a potential negative into a positive

by Nigel Hollis | February 17, 2014

Sometimes nothing but a burger will do. With this in mind, Jill and I stopped into Johnny Rockets which claims to be the home of the original hamburger. The burger itself proved unexceptional, but what really caught my attention was how the staff turned a potential negative experience into a positive one. 

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Shortly after we sat at the counter, all of the wait staff suddenly lined up and performed a dance routine accompanied by the music on the jukebox. It was an unexpected and fun little episode. Intrigued as to why they put on this show, I asked our server what signaled them to do the dance. He explained that when the kitchen got backed up, the manager would give the signal and the team would do their dance routine. This gave the kitchen staff the chance to prepare the food and to catch up with orders. 

Now this may come as no news to others, but it was new to me. What a great way of heading off a potential negative and making it into a positive. The dance routine has three obvious benefits: 

  • First of all, the customers are kept amused by the dance. I doubt I will remember the food, but I will remember the overall experience and the unexpected entertainment. 
  • Second, because all of the wait staff are involved (and their customers can see that they are involved) no new orders are placed and the hiatus gives those waiting for food a ready reason why their food has not arrived yet. People are less likely to get upset at how long it takes to get served. 
  • Last and not least, the pause takes the pressure of the kitchen staff that might otherwise get overwhelmed and start making mistakes. In the longer-term it might reduce staff turnover. 

This simple diversion is a great reminder that a brand experience can encompass many different dimensions. It is also a salutary reminder that solutions can sometimes come from outside the box. The obvious reaction to back-ups in the kitchen would be to hire extra staff in order to ensure that there is no delay in fulfilling orders. However, offering people extra value in the form of some brief entertainment may solve that problem without adding additional expense, and might even result in improved customer satisfaction. 

Would I go back to Johnny Rockets a second time? I might, but food quality, cleanliness and good service come high up the “must have” list for casual dining restaurants, even if they do offer unexpected entertainment. Let’s just say that the service was great and leave it at that shall we? 

What examples of turning a negative experience into a positive have you come across? Please share your thoughts.

2 comments

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  1. Duncan Southgate, June 23, 2014

    I guess in the web world, one example would be the good old 404 page.

    Here are a couple of examples of how the best websites turn a moment of irritation into a moment of entertainment:

    https://creativemarket.com/blog/2013/07/22/the-best-404-pages-on-the-internet

    They've become such an institution that there's even a website where you can vote for the 404 page of the month:

    http://404notfound.fr/

    And what happens if go to the 404 page of the 404 website?  You get to play a fun game :)

    http://www.404notfound.fr/error

  2. Duncan Southgate, April 24, 2014
    I guess in the web world, one example would be the good old 404 page.Here are a couple of examples of how the best websites turn a moment of irritation into a moment of entertainment:https://creativemarket.com/blog/2013/07/22/the-best-404-pages-on-the-internetThey've become such an institution that there's even a website where you can vote for the 404 page of the month: http://404notfound.fr/ And what happens if go to the 404 page of the 404 website?  You get to play a fun game :)http://www.404notfound.fr/error

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