The Sh*t Yeah! Customer retention

Is it worth the wait?

Zunzi’s Take out & Catering is one of the popular quick-bite solutions in downtown Savannah, Georgia. They offer a variety of kinda-middle-eastern, kinda-from-everywhere sandwiches or other meaty (and some vegetarian) goodnesses. They are located right next to Savannah College of Art and Design’s Bradley Hall, (SCAD’s administrative/advisory building) and is also nearby several downtown establishments, placing themselves to be an attractive location for quick, yummy, multinational lunchtime bites. Well, for any time, really.

Usually, their orders are processed within minutes. Folks line up to place their order, get their food, then pay at the counter as they would in chipotle and other commonplace take-out food enterprises.

However, when I ordered the pictured Gyro Meat Platter, (trust me, it tastes better than it looks) it took them somewhere around 15~20 minutes to get the food ready because they had just ran out of the gyro meat, and was waiting to get more from the kitchen. It was not that boring of a wait because the customer interaction throughout their journey is both very casual and energetic, (case of point: the employees are encouraged to yell “sh*t, yeah!” whenever the opportunity arizes) and therefore quite entertaining to watch. (Even their hot sauce is called “Hot-as-sh*t)

By the time they got the meat ready to go, the person responsible for getting the dishes together dumped in double the serving of meats and sauces, while some other staff gave me a free bag of chips and a cookie on top of that. This can be a fairly comon practice of trying to make up for a longer-than-expected wait in any food-related business, but I want to break down what exactly is going on here.

The Value Proposition of Zunzi’s is stated above: “quick, yummy, multinational lunchtime bites, or for any time”. As long as this perceived value is recieved by the customer, the customer should be satisfied. Now, the “quick” bit of the promised and/or perceived value was lost as they were serving me. Time is a finicky resource in particular, because it is difficult to make up for time lost, unless a series of service or value is provided in a long-term over extended period of time. Even then, the value promised for a certain value delivery point will have been diminished, and there is no way to recuperate.

When Zunzi’s gave me extra food, they attempted to make up for the lost value by giving me more of the “yummy, multinational bites” for no additional cost, and here lies the problem. If the person eating is supposed to be on their way in 20~30 minutes, then the customer went to Zunzi’s to get their food, eat their meal, and leave as soon as possible. The value perception of quickness was prioritized over their taste, temperature, cuisine, etc. Thus, an argument could be made that the extra food did not adequetly compensate for the loss in proposed value. However, the very gesture of giving extra food (thus taking a loss), for you to possibly bring some back home (or just glutinously eat them all like I did. I have no regrets.), still has the potential to repair the broken trust, by recognizing that they have messed up, and cares about you enough to at least make an attempt to make up for it.

Regardless of rather it fixes the initial mess-up, the extra food makes you feel valuable and cared for. Thus, even with indirect compensation, the company has the potential to retain the customer or perhaps gain even more loyalty.

One last thing that has to be kept in consideration, however, is that the importance of the value traded off may supersede the other value added for compensation. If you were in a real rush and absolutely had to leave within the next 20 minutes, you will still be unhappy. You may just straight out leave without even asking for the money back, because the time was that important for you - Not to mention that the you would not only have wasted money and time, but also hungry and left with your craving for a mound meat on top of a mound of rice doused with fabulous sauces unsatisfied.