Terry Haley

Customers should expect excellence, it shouldn’t be a surprise.

That’s according to Terry Haley, CMO, Hopdoddy Burger Bar, who led the recent CMO Club roundtable, Surprising and Delighting Your Customers.

The key to achieving excellence and delighting your customers is a deep understanding of the expectations of your customers not just what they are consuming, but why, he said.

Haley spoke from his perspective at Hopdoddy Burger Bar and offered a few key tips.

When it comes to understanding your customers, think about what they are actually looking for, versus what we want them to be looking for, he said.

Hopdoddy, a hybrid service model that considers itself both experiential, and fast-casual due to its order at the register format, took a hard look recently at what its customers expected in terms of those two concepts, Haley said.

“We hadn’t fully dug into the why, in terms of what the (customer) expectation is for us, ” he said.

What it came down to, he said, was dialing in on the customer’s “why,” versus the company’s hypothesis. Rather than asking the customer to adhere to their service model, they instead began asking the customer how the company could adhere to the service he or she is looking for.

Once you’ve made that connection with the customer, Haley said it‰’s important to get the team on board, and hardwire the concept of doing right. Empower the team and the managers to do right by the customer, and make it a line item in the P&L, he said.

Finally, listen to, and support your team. Each year, for example, the leadership team at Hopdoddy spends several full days in each restaurant even working shifts in the restaurants. Be the example to the team, support them, and don‰’t make empty promises, he said.

“It’s not brain surgery, it’s culture,” Haley said. “Celebrate the people who do it.”

In taking questions from roundtable participants, Haley also talked about the balance between the target customer, and other customers who come into the restaurant.

For example, Hopdoddy views its consumer target as Indepassionate, a term they coined to describe the independent Millennial and Gen Y consumers who like to do their own thing, and are into experiences.

“We found what we do with them is a little different,” he said.

That consumer doesn’t want a lot of face-to-face service, and can find it irritating, whereas, and the older generation may want more touch. This has the company testing an “on demand” model where the customer can call servers to the table with the touch of a button. But for the older customers, they will continue to have a roaming service person out on the floor.

This illustrates the need to understand what each customer is looking for, versus what you want them to look for, he said.

Finally, take feedback whether consumer or within your organization listen to it, and use it, Haley said.

“One of the reasons I came here is, at least once a year, the CEO and members of our executive team travel to every restaurant and have a town hall with the restaurant team,” Haley said.

What’s more, their CEO takes the feedback home with him and follows up on each item.

“It’s a good way to keep your pulse on the group and to have the conversation they aren’t always pleasant, but you can unearth the things that aren’t working,” he said.