How are you enjoying your experience so far?
‘How are you enjoying your meal?’. The meal check is standard procedure in any dining experience. After delivering your order, the waiter or waitress will swing by your table again just to check that everything is meeting your expectations. And this simply evaluation opportunity could be the difference between becoming the biggest advocate for the restaurant or the biggest detractor.
You may be asking yourself why I am talking about dining in an article about entertainment marketing. Well, believe it or not, there isn’t much of a difference between dining and entertainment. As restaurants and chefs continue to build on the experiential side of eating, dining becomes another form of entertainment in itself (and could steal audience members away from other types of entertainment during a night out). And it is also inherently linked to entertainment because most audiences will engage in some sort of dining opportunity before taking in a show, concert or movie.
So with this in mind, there is something that entertainment can learn from eating out.
It is much harder to walk out of a restaurant dissatisfied compared to a show because of one customer service process in restaurants, the meal check.
While it may be a simple question from your waiter or waitress, the meal check provides the restaurant with an opportunity to completely change an experience which is not meeting your expectations. If the surrounding tables are too raucous, you can be moved. If the dish that you were served was incorrect or came out cold, it can be corrected. If you are missing any cutlery, serviettes or want some more water, all these situations can be mended.
Sure, they may not turn you into the biggest advocate of the restaurant, but these small changes partway through the service could certainly encourage your recommendation or at least discourage any detracting comments to friends and family.
The situation is not the same in most other entertainment forums. Generally you are left alone once the experience begins leaving the only time to raise a complaint or suggestion after the experience has finished – at which point there isn’t much which can be done.
I don’t have all the answers. Looking for a way to implement this into traditional entertainment offers could be incredibly difficult. And would the complaints be rectifiable? ‘I don’t like my seating location.’ ‘I’m not enjoying the show’. ‘I can’t see over the person in front of me’. Some might be able to be fixed with a free ice-cream, a booster seat or a seat change if there are any spare seats but others are impossible as re-writing the show is most likely not an option.
Still, it is better to have your audience complain early so that you can do something about it. What this looks like? I don’t know yet. But there will be a way!