Restaurant User Experience

Recently I visited my mother in Florida.  We went out to eat and tried to get into P.F. Changs.  If you haven’t tried the food there, it is very good, HOWEVER, the line is usually really long and it sometimes takes hours to get a table.

This was the case for us when we showed up at the restaurant.  Luckily, there was another restaurant right next door called McCormick and Scmicks.  They could seat us much quicker because they didn’t have the throng of people waiting for PF Changs, but it was still pretty crowded.

Here is the interesting part:

The waiter said they were having a contest to get membership in the restaurant club.  It costs $25 but they immediately mail you a $25 gift certificate for your next meal.  Main benefit of the card: No waiting in line ever.

This is brilliant.  All of their customers have JUST seen how waiting in a line is terrible.  This is a compelling offer.  Additionally, the $25 in and $25 back makes the thing “seem” free.  In reality, many people won’t ever use the gift card and even if they do, their meal will cost alot more than $25.

But wait, there is more.  It get’s even better.

When you buy food you earn points and the points can get you free food and treatment.  So each time you go, they are building up a rewards system and loyalty.  The second meal is sure to earn you enough points that the third meals deserts are free.  It goes on and on.

This is clealry someone thinking creatively about their situation and how to get return customers.  How clearly are you thinking about your own software application?  Do you get return customers?  Could you get more?

Last note, the waiter was super nice and responsive because he was trying to win the contest.  This just goes to show that the right system of incentives and offers can make a great user experience.

Whatya think?