Customer Experience Lessons from my all-time favorite Street Vendor

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If you are living in South India especially in Tamilnadu, you will be able to identify this item below that brings instant joy to our taste buds.

Kaalaan

Mushroom masala aka “Kaalaan”

1. Greet, Smile and Say the Name

I used to frequent this shop since I was in school. I have reached this shop using three different vehicles so far – bicycle, bike, and car but his response has always been the same.

The first words I hear ” Sundarrrr ”

We have all read stories on how showroom managers or car dealers judge you by your attire, the car you drive and more when you walk in. But this man treats a school kid, college guy, and an office-goer the same way.

I take my friends along to introduce them to this place and they are often pleasantly surprised about how he welcomes me.

2. Engage in Conversations

While the dish is being prepared, he is not only focused on the cooking but also engages with the customers asking about their kids and siblings and why they haven’t brought them along.

There have been instances where he has introduced me to random people saying that I have been frequenting his place loyally for more than 10 years. They smile, say hi and start talking about our mutual friend who is busy cooking for us.

He also tells me about my friends from school and college who had visited him in the past week or month to have food at his place.

3. Provide Value to every visitor

There have been instances when I got late from work and reached the shop when he was already packing to go back home. But he still unpacks a bit, takes a poori, dips it in spicy syrup (paani) and hands it to me. When you walk up to his wagon, he always gives you something irrespective of whether you are paying or not.

I have seen people refusing the free poori but he insists and asks them to eat and give feedback on how it is. If they like it, they will be ordering that when they come the next time.

For those outside India, this is how Poori looks

panipuri

4. Be Honest with your loyal customers when you commit a mistake

Whenever you commit a mistake and you understand that you have disappointed a loyal customer, always confide in them on why you did what you did.

Let’s take an example:

I order something as a takeaway and he starts cooking. Then after a few minutes, a customer walks in and orders the same thing. Once the item is ready, I get ready and take the money to pay but I see him put it on a plate and hand it to the customer who walked in after I ordered the thing.

He looks at me and whispers ” That customer has walked a long distance after college and must be very hungry. Give me five minutes, I will get yours ready ”

He does not stop with that. He bribes me with a pani-puri and I end up smiling. And he adds a lot of freebies than usual in the takeaway pack and gives it to me with a smile.

5. Understanding and acting on Customer Data

I was a big fan of one of his recipes which had egg in it. When I was in school, I used to have that item (” Egg Mushroom Masala “) at least once in a week.

After a couple of years, he changed his location to a residential neighborhood. He quickly realized he was losing out on a lot of footfall because he had eggs in his wagon and most of the residents in that area do not consume egg.

He instantly removed the item from the menu and quickly everyone was comfortable in buying food from him. Though I mention occasionally about how much I miss that particular one, I am happy he earned a truckload of new customers in that locality.

Summary

No formal MBA or training, not an avid reader of sales and marketing self-help books but this person is a master in keeping his customers happy.

Customer Experience Lessons from Streetfood vendor

The Genius and my favorite street food vendor Pandiyan 🙂

There is so much to learn from the people we meet every day.

 

 

 

 

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