How I got “schooled” in Customer Experience

It’s not very often I walk away from a customer experience feeling amazed, but on a recent trip to Melbourne I achieved exactly that. It was at a restaurant called Vue De Monde, a fine dining experience that was crafted from the moment we arrived until the moment we departed.

I should mention this was the centerpiece of a birthday weekend away with my lovely wife, so I was feeling the pressure of expectation around how good the experience would be. We’d heard good things and I had talked it up a little as a result and now was truly hoping it lived up to expectation. And live up to expectation it did.

In short, the service was nothing short of phenomenal. And the food was to die for. But what was most impressive is how purposeful and refined everything was. You got the feeling that every staff member had spent months training in order to qualify to deliver their experience.

From the moment we walked into reception, on ground floor, the concierge made us feel important. “Right this way sir, just step in and it will automatically take you to level 55”. I looked at the numbers to see if it was already pressed – but there was no number 55 – the numbers stopped at 54. Sure, I get this is a bit of a gimmick but none-the-less I started to get the impression of the kind of experience we were about to embark on.

Upon arriving on level 55 we were personally greeted and taken into the bar and sat down. They showed us the bar menu which had a range of swanky sounding drinks… and then we enjoyed the view of Melbourne from level 55 of the Rialto.

Shortly afterwards we were taken to our table. I watched the man place my glass down and the time, patience and deliberate nature he used to place the glass down. Clearly trained to ensure no accidental spillage, no clinking of glass – simply nothing left to chance. And he left us sitting, facing out the window over the gorgeous view, with a range of stones, driftwood and interesting trinkets placed expertly on the table.

Then the show began.

Another waiter arrived and explained the menu to us, with the option to pick anywhere from 5 to 9 courses and accompanying wines. All while another two people placed a range of Amuse Bouche on our table, which they explained, weren’t any of the 7 courses we’d ordered – simply an introduction to their exquisite menu. We made note that everything on the table was put to use. The driftwood had its purpose, as did the stones, as did the other trinkets. They were either used to place food, cutlery or condiments on. And this was one of our first observations to each other. Simply nothing was left to chance. Everything had a place, a purpose, a meaning.

The meals rolled around and one after another we reveled in the culinary delight of the food presented – one part artistry, one part magic, one part gastronomical delight.   At one stage they poured liquid ice over fresh herbs and then asked us to crush the now frozen herbs with mortar and pestle and mix with avocado sorbet to create our very own palette cleanser. It was simply amazing.

I can’t remember the exact point it happened, but it occurred to me I was getting a very astute lesson on the true meaning of customer experience. The ability to take a customer on a journey from beginning to end and have them entranced the whole way through.

And it achieved exactly what I’m sure it set out to. We had an amazing & unforgettable experience that we’ve raved about to friends and family. We went from being completely unaware of Vue De Monde’s existence (i.e. when I saw them on a restaurant review website) through to being raving advocates in only a matter of weeks – a feat many brands couldn’t achieve in months or even years in some cases.

Hats off to Shannon Bennett and his amazing restaurant. I’ll certainly be back for second helpings.

Lessons we can all learn from Vue De Monde

  • Be deliberate. Everything you do should have a purpose. If things don’t have genuine utility eliminate them.
  • Less is more. Don’t try and be all things to all people. Do less and be excellent at everything you do.
  • Train your staff. Make everything a process (and a damn good one) and train your staff to within an inch of your life.