One Data Point (Issue 1091)

In which we are reminded that we can lose a client’s confidence with just one “off” experience.

Back in my earlier research days when I got excited about some finding, one of my mentors counseled me, “One data point is not a trend”… although she would begrudgingly admit that one data point could be leaning in a particular direction. (Ha, ha)

A week ago, with friends, I went to a vegetarian hamburger food truck that has two locations. My friends have been to both locations several times a year for several years. On my first visit to them, last April, I felt so excited about the vegetarian bacon cheeseburger that I had two. TWO! [So out of character for me that incriminating pictures were taken.]

My friends have had only good words to say about the places so, when I came to town this month for a visit, they decided we’d go there for our “welcome dinner”.

When we arrived this time, feeling excited to visit again, I ordered the DOUBLE vegetarian bacon cheeseburger with a side of sweet potato fries and (with my friends) a side of tater tots to share.

Oh, sad surprise! When the food came out. We took our first bites… Disappointed!!!!! While the tater tots were rather good, the sweet potato fries were dish-rag soggy and the vegetarian burger patties were sandpaper dry – overcooked and underdressed with insufficient ketchup, mustard, pickles, and tomato to fill out the package.

“I wonder what happened. This isn’t like them,” opined one friend, after biting into her underwhelming sandwich.

“I agree,” replied the other; “I don’t know”

And then they began generating theories about why the burgers weren’t as good as expected: Maybe they’ve changed management. Maybe the team has changed. Maybe the people on this night (a Sunday) weren’t fully up to speed. Maybe the people on this night were too busy talking to each other and flirting with customers that they really didn’t care WHAT the food was like.

“I’m not sure I would want to come back here after this,” concluded friend #1.

“Yeah, it’s really too bad. I agree,” responded friend #2. “I don’t think I would.”

One “off” night. One sub-par experience. One data point. Fair or not… Familiarity and confidence developed over several years… evaporated.

While one such data point should not be a trend, it can certainly start people leaning in a particular direction.

Nick Miller trains banks and credit unions to attract and expand relationships with business clients through better skills, sales strategies, and execution. He is President of Clarity Advantage based in Concord, MA. Additional articles on Clarity’s web site.

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