I had lunch today at Can Can Brasserie in Carytown (here in Richmond). I had a coffee meeting there on Monday. And I’m likely taking a client there for drinks on Saturday evening. My sister loves the restaurant, as does Christen. And I’m sure if I took my mother, she would too. But don’t think it’s just a chick place, although it is chic. As a matter of fact, the majority of the tables around us today, and Monday, were filled with men (eating big plates of pommes frites I might add).

So what is it about Can Can? Yes, it’s great ambiance – they’ve got the French thing down pretty good, even the lights and flatware are not what you’d find anywhere not Paris-themed in the US. And yes, they have great wines and tarts and crepes. And their sole meuniere is tres bon! However, I think it’s something more that one keeps returning for – and that’s the consistent experience.

I know that I will always receive excellent service by a well-trained (and often darling) server. I know that if I’m meeting someone there, they’ve taken the names of the party and will help me find them easily. I know I will always have a lovely cup of coffee and will succumb to a croissant or creme brulee and it will always be served at the perfect temperature on a sparkling plate with the appropriate utensil. I know the ladies room floor will be clean and there will be towels to dry my hands with. And yes, I know I’ll pay a bit more for all of that, but it’s worth it.

It’s worth it, because I can count on it. Which means no surprises – so I can focus on the company I’m with and the conversation and meal we’re enjoying. At MBM, we try to provide that same consistent experience. As a matter of fact, we’re often complimented on it. Whether it’s someone new answering the phone, a new client services contact because someone’s on maternity leave (or on vacation or just out sick for the day) — we take pride in having a very specific way of communicating externally and sharing information internally. And this shows through. Even our toughest client has said several times “[New Person] is doing a great job, and I wasn’t sure when [Old Person] left if it would be the same. But it is!”

There’s no secret to it. And I’m sure the folks at Can Can would agree. It’s simply deciding what your business culture will be, what your client experience will be, communicating that to your team, and measuring their performance against that criteria. And that means holding people accountable. If they aren’t up to the task, then they don’t fit with your culture and should find employment elsewhere. I believe lots of business owners think their clients have a consistent experience — but I wonder how many actually review, inquire, test and manage to that experience (vs. the bottom line).

What do you think? Post on our Facebook the companies you believe offer a consistent experience.

– Maggi