Morton's Steakhouse and the Greatest Customer Service Story Ever Told

I continuously write about the importance of the customer experience.  Similarly, I continuously research strategies, ideas and stories related to this topic.  Today searching the web I found a great post by Peter Shankman, which describes a truly remarkable customer service experience that he enjoyed provided by Morton's Steakhouse.

As I wrote in my post, LEGO's Experience Wheel Reveals the 'Wow" Factor, and in earlier posts the key to be able to build customer loyalty and a successful long term business is to deliver a differentiating and unique experience, which is rooted on each customer's specific needs.  Mr. Shankman's experience is a testament to Morton's ability to go to great length to cater to his client's needs.  It is also a great example of the importance of customizing the shopping experience to match the customer's story and circumstances. 

Here are the most significant excerpts from his post:

"When my alarm clock went off at 3:30 this morning, I knew I was in for a long day. I was catching a 7am flight out of Newark to Tampa, Florida, for a lunch meeting in Clearwater, then heading back to Newark on a 5pm flight, getting me in around 8:10pm, and with any luck, to my apartment by 9 or so. We all have days like that, they happen from time to time.

Made my flight, everything was on time, got to my lunch meeting. Because of the training/workout schedule I’m on, my first meal of the day was that lunch. Was fine, I had a healthy piece of grouper, and a very successful lunch meeting that lasted just about three hours.

By the time I got back to the airport, it was close to 4pm. Flight boarded at 4:30pm, and I knew that by the time I got home, I wouldn’t have time to stop for dinner anywhere, and certainly didn’t want to grab fast food at either airport. When I got on the plane, my stomach was a rumbling a bit, and I had visions of a steak in my head.

As I’ve tweeted and mentioned countless times before, I’m a bit of a steak lover. I go out of my way to try steakhouses all around the world when I can, and it’s one of the reasons, no doubt, that my trainer at my gym is kept in business. But it’s all good – give and take. Over the past few years, I’ve developed an affinity for Morton’s Steakhouses, and if I’m doing business in a city which has one, I’ll try to schedule a dinner there if I can. I’m a frequent diner, and Morton’s knows it. They have a spectacular Customer Relations Management system in place, as well as a spectacular social media team, and they know when I call from my mobile number who I am, and that I eat at their restaurants regularly. Never underestimate the value of a good CRM system.

Back to my flight. As we were about to take off, I jokingly tweeted the following:

Let’s understand: I was joking. I had absolutely no expectations of anything from that Tweet. It’s like how we Tweet “Dear Winter, please stop, love Peter,” or something similar.

I shut off my phone and we took off.

Two and a half hours later, we landed at EWR. The fact that a flight got into EWR on time during summer thunderstorm season is a miracle in itself, but that’s not important right now. Walking off the plane, I headed towards the area where the drivers wait, as my assistant Meagan had reserved me a car home.

Looking for my driver, I saw my name, waved to him, and started walking to the door of EWR, like I’d done hundreds of times before.
“Um, Mr. Shankman,” he said.
I turned around.
“There’s a surprise for you here.”

I turned to see that the driver was standing next to someone else, who I just assumed was another driver he was talking to. Then I noticed the “someone else” was in a tuxedo. And he was carrying a Morton’s bag.

Now understand… I’m a born-and-raised New York City kid. It takes a lot to surprise me. A LOT. I see celebrities on the Subway. I see movies being shot outside my apartment, and fake gunfire from any given CSI show, five days a week. I’m immune to surprises.

Except when they’re like this.

Alex, from Morton’s Hackensack walks up to me, introduces himself, and hands me a bag. He proceeds to tell me that he’d heard I was hungry, and inside is a 24 oz. Porterhouse steak, an order of Colossal Shrimp, a side of potatoes, one of Morton’s famous round things of bread, two napkins, and silverware. He hands me the bag.

I. Was. Floored."

To read Mr. Shankman entire post, follow this link.

Retailers should do their outmost to understand their customers and develop the ability to walk in their shoes.  Most times that is a difficult task, as customers usually do not expressly reveal their actual needs.  Morton's job was slightly easier, as their customer expressed his desire very clearly.  However, as Mr. Shankman mentioned in his own post, Morton's recognized the importance of fulfilling that need.  It is undeniable that Morton's was able to deliver the kind of surprising and unforgettable experience that is going to earn it a lifelong customer and invaluable word-of-mouth.

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