Did you know that food gets better when the chef can see the people who will consume it? And food gets even better when chefs and restaurant patrons can both observe one another. So concludes new research cited in the article, Cooks Make Tastier Food When They Can See Their Customers, in the current issue of Harvard Business Review. Results from the recent research at the Harvard Business School are compelling: Customer satisfaction increased 10% when cooks could see the customers. Even more compelling, satisfaction increased 17.3% when customers and cooks both could see each other.
“It’s important to note that it wasn’t just the perception of quality that improved – the food objectively got better,” Researcher Ryan Buell, an assistant professor at Harvard Business School, told the Harvard Business Review. The improvement in customer satisfaction was driven by both parties. “Seeing the customer can make employees feel more appreciated… and more willing to exert effort,” stated Buell. That explains the 10% improvement when cooks could see their customers. The additional 7.3% jump in customer satisfaction when customers and cooks could both see each other indicates that customers can better appreciate the effort being made when they are aware of or witness to it.
Why share this insight? To address a broader lesson: Transparency breeds excellence, and a personal connection greatly improves customer satisfaction. To many in sales and customer service, transparency may seem risky – even counterintuitive. In reality, transparency is an extremely productive form of engagement, and is symptomatic of a secure and trusting customer relationship. This research demonstrates the critical role of personal connection and how dramatically it enhances the customer experience. The results also make a compelling argument for sales and customer service professionals to keep customers “in the loop” and engaged as an active participant in our solutions.
Buell captured the dynamic quite well, stating, “The (study) highlights the humanity of interactions, of service. There’s something refreshingly human about the idea that just seeing each other can make us more appreciative and lead to objectively better outcomes.”