Recently, while visiting a restaurant (The Colony Restaurant), I asked to look at the menu. I was handed an elegantly bound and foil-stamped leather menu with the tasty appetizers and entrees printed inside. Then the young lady said “Oh, here is a copy of the specials for tonight”. It was a photo copy of the handwritten specials, as created and described by the Chef (who also happens to be the owner). I asked “Do you hand these out to the patrons, or just have the servers read them?” “We hand them out to the guests.” was the reply. “We tried printing them on nice card-stock and handing them out, but everyone kept asking for the menu written by the Chef”.
Not that the descriptions were any different, it was the “authenticity” that they are craving. Guests wanted to know just how the Chef was thinking and the exact words he used to describe his creations.
What businesses need to do today…
Connect with people and make The experience…Their Experience! In this case it should feel as if the Chef invited them to his home, preparing a meal just for them. Now, when the Chef is roaming through the dining room and walks up to their table and asks “How do you like the new special this evening?”, the guest is far more likely to share emotional thoughts and give authentic feedback. This exchange of thoughts, opinions and ideas defines the true co-creation of a dining experience.
Any company can follow this example of co-creation and begin to implement it, just like The Colony Restaurant does. Implications may take a different shape or disrupt a set of circumstances, depending on the size of your company or how you connect with people. But, the outcome needs to be the same.
The next time you are out to dinner…sample the authenticity. See if it creates an exceptional experience, or just fills your belly and empties your wallet.