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“Can I Have Some Garlic Mayonnaise, Please?” [Entrepreneurship Blog]

How do you react to unknown customer requests?

Or when they ask for “weird” or new things?

· Business,Entrepreneur,Business Systems,Small Business,Customer Experience

Today's Brain Fart: “I’m afraid we don’t have any”.

“Oh...well, normal mayo is fine then, thanks”.

That’s a badly paraphrased exchange that took place when I was out for dinner in a restaurant in St Andrews with my beautiful girlfriend, Sarah recently (we’ve been together for more than 5 months now, so I feels it’s ok to order something with garlic in it, haha!).

Anyway, this is not a blog to bash the restaurant for not having what I wanted. However, it is an exploration of customer expectations, “unique” requests and the products and services offered by companies.

If you run a business long enough, or work in a job for enough time, you are probably going to get a request from a customer that you feel is “unusual”. It’s never been asked before.

Ahhhh, there’s no plan, policy or procedure for that!

Someone asks for something new and it could, at one extreme, result in something of a meltdown for the business, or at least for those individuals running around trying to answer the request. It could completely break the system! (You can read a previous KWAK Brain Fart, where I explore systems in business, using Costa as an example, here).

However, I’m not for one second suggesting that my request for garlic mayonnaise caused the restaurant to fall into a tailspin!

Just to test this though, next time you’re eating out, please ask the server for “garlic mayo” (regardless of what you’ve ordered!), and let me know what happens? This could be a really fun wee experiment! #GarlicMayoChallenge

How do you react to unknown requests? Customers that demand “weird” or new things?

There are many avenues to take, including:

1. Shut it down - we don’t offer this because (“garlic makes your breath stink!”), however, we do this instead. It could be that actually offering that thing would move your business away from it’s goals and, therefore, is a “distraction”.

2. Pass it on - we can’t supply you with this (“because we’re an opticians and don’t sell garlic mayo!”). However, you may want to try this other company instead.

3. Offer it! - if enough customers ask for something new, or if it is financially and strategically viable to deliver it to even just one, then do it (“That’s your cat successfully been neutered...and here’s some garlic mayonnaise for you!”).

Next time a customer asks you for “garlic mayonnaise”, how will you react?...

Kallum with a K

P.S. I missed a line out of my story about the restaurant in St Andrews: when I was told they had no garlic mayo, I immediately asked for Cajun mayo instead (they didn’t have that either!). And this was yet another episode that confirmed to Sarah that I am a food snob!

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