Don’t Be the Cardboard “Cake” in the Bakery Window
Do your customers feel appreciated? No, really.

I cannot overstate this enough: I’m passionate about food! As a Cordon Bleu chef who has spent many happy years in restaurants as a chef, I can confidently say that I am immersed in and enjoy all things culinary-related.

My background might also explain to you why I’m extra-passionate about ensuring the best possible outcomes for restaurants, grocery and other food-related businesses. After all, who doesn’t love a great business success story? I’ve been on the “food frontlines” and it’s amazing when you see everyone’s hard work result in increased sales, revenues and growth.

Moreover, since moving professionally from food creation to the corporate side of things, I have come to one very important realization: when you’re in the business of food, your success is tied very, very tightly to the customer experience you deliver.

Picture a bakery window display. The cakes are not only beautiful architectural masterpieces—they also look absolutely scrumptious. But if you look more closely, you realize the cake is just cardboard. It’s been prettied up, but under all that icing there is nothing of substance.

The customer experience can be like that. Too often, businesses promise (whether explicitly or implicitly) an amazing experience that ultimately falls flat for customers. As an example, a business may spend a lot of money to create a mobile app that appears warm, inviting and intuitive—but when a new potential customer begins going through the site, they realize it’s actually really hard to navigate. This essentially goes against the business’ “promise.”

Ultimately, the customer experience you deliver should be just as delicious as your food looks. Or, put another way, the customer experience you offer should be an extension of the overall look and feel—the visual “promise”—of the very products and services you sell. If your produce is always ripe and colorful, the customer experience you provide should reflect that freshness. If you’re all about offering innovative menu items, you should provide customers with an ongoing experience as impressive as your fusion concoctions.

So how do you ensure your customer experience matches your “promise”? Having recently participated in yet another cooking course, I got to thinking about how creating and following a recipe is similar to planning and producing your customer experience.

In the kitchen, creating that perfect dish is not just about the ingredients you use. It’s not just about finding the right oven temperature. Nor it is only about timing. Perfection comes from the strategic combination of many factors all along the “cooking journey”—from the start (planning your recipe) to the very end (eaten/in someone’s belly). But add just one wrong ingredient to the mix, or leave it in the oven a couple minutes too long—and your recipe is negatively affected, even ruined.

The same goes for the customer journey: add one bad “ingredient” to your relationship with each individual customer, and this can chip away at their so-called appetite for your business. Like sending an email to a frequent customer—one that promotes only meat-based menu items, despite the fact that person is a vegetarian who has never once ordered meat from your restaurant. Or, despite being in a pandemic, not offering some form of contactless payment to customers who would like to give their business but are reluctant to physically enter your grocery store. Things like this can, to use yet another food metaphor, leave a bad taste in one’s mouth.

So what’s the solution? There is good news: easy-to-use technology exists to help you add all the right “ingredients” to the customer experience mix—whether they’re doing business with you in-app, online, or in-store—and create that perfect recipe for success.

Imagine being able to offer customers the opportunity to use their smartphone to scan products or menu items and learn more about their ingredients; this is especially valuable to customers who have dietary restrictions. Or enabling them to scan and pay for their groceries in-store, thereby removing the need to stand in long line-ups. Or to order and pay for their dinner online, and then announce their arrival when they pick up their order—all without making physical contact.

But wait, there’s more to this already delicious recipe! Why not sprinkle in some understanding of your customers’ needs and preferences? Pairing together mobile app solutions like omNovos’ InterACT with a solution like our PACE platform, your business can collect information at every touchpoint and every interaction of every single individual customer—and create and communicate custom offers just for them. Each engagement builds off the previous one, or enhances the customer experience in some way to lead to the final purchase. Meanwhile, your customer is engaged every step of the way—and much more likely to come back for more.

The tools are out there—so why not aim for a Cordon Bleu-esque customer experience that is as delicious as your food looks? If your business wants to stop being that iced cardboard cake in the bakery window and create a customer experience that truly speaks to customers, let’s talk.

Allan Zander

Allan Zander


Allan Zander is the Chief Executive Officer at omNovos and a regular keynote speaker on the subject of Digital Transformation. Allan loves the entire process around the “art of the possible” - whiteboard sessions where he gets to turn problems into ideas, ideas into solutions, and solutions into businesses. Connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter to start a discussion or even discover a new dinner recipe.