Lesson From The Streets Of New York: Keep It Real

My family was recently in New York. We had a great time — except for the Yankees sweeping the Red Sox. And if you’re interested, at the bottom of the post I’ve listed a few of the restaurants that we enjoyed during our visit.

While we were walking around the city, we ran into a number of people asking for money on the streets. One guy was selling candy on the subway. Here was his shpeel:

I’m here to sell candy. The money is not going to charity or any organization. I will use the money to buy more candy to make more money. And I will spend the money wisely.

Another guy on a street near Yankee Stadium was holding out a cup and had a sign that said: 

I’m not going to lie. I really need a beer. Keep it real.

Both of those interactions made us laugh. But then I thought: “why is the truth so funny?”

My take: It’s unfortunate, but we’ve all become used to having things “marketed” to us in a less than honest fashion. Consumers end up developing filters for either ignoring or just not believing any advertisements. So when something shows up as being truly honest, it stands out.

Our research shows that many types of firms (especially banks, insurers, credit card firms, investment firms, and health insurers) get more loyal customers when they are seen as a “Customer Advocate” (take a look at an earlier post called Banks Prepare For Customer Experience Wars). And, what better way is there to show advocacy than by being honest?

So here’s a new strategy for firms to consider: brutal honesty.

The bottom line: Honesty may be more than just novel, it may also be profitable.

***************************
Some restaurant recommendations in New York:

  • La Bonne Soupe (48 West 55th Street, between 5th and 6th Aves). Great spot for lunch. As the name suggests, great soups. But also excellent fondue, chopped steak, and other french bistro options. My kids tried Escargots de Bourgogne for the first time and loved it!
  • Rosa Mexicano (61 Columbus Avenue at 62nd Street). We really enjoyed dinner here. Make sure to get the guacamole appetizer that they make at your table. We enjoyed both the chicken the goat tacos (which are prepared more like fajitas — you assemble them yourself). The short ribs were also outstanding. When you’re done, order the guacamole ice cream if they have it. The mix a bunch of things with ice cream at your table — just like they make the guacamole. But don’t worry, there’s no avodaco in the dessert.
  • Balthazar (80 Spring Street). This was another French bistro lunch spot that we really liked. Everything was good — from the french onion soup to the french ham and gruyere sandwich. But you must try the roast pork chop. Much pricier than La Bonne Soup.  
  • Rice To Riches (37 Spring Street). If you like rice pudding (and who doesn’t), then you need to drop in here. You will be treated with a wide range of flavors and a really funky environment. Great place for dessert or just an afternoon snack.
  • Norma’s (in the Le Parker Meridien, 119 W 56th Street). An unbelievable breakfast spot — a truly unique menu. We loved everything: flat-as-a-pancake crab cakes, very-berry brioche French toast, nutella fruit-filled crepes, and risotto oatmeal. But plan on spending top dollar for this breakfast experience: $25 or more per person.

About Bruce Temkin
I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, marketing, interaction design, customer service, and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

One Response to Lesson From The Streets Of New York: Keep It Real

  1. Pingback: Off Topic: More Observations Of New York City « Customer Experience Matters

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