Any successful services business embodies and continually reinforces the values of service timeliness, reliability, empathy, assurance and tangibles (TREAT) (Sedlock, 2010). These attributes are also essential for any service business to gain trust through authenticity as well (Pine, Gilmore, 2008). Given how synchronized all aspects of their services need to be in order to delight customers, it is apparent how critical communication between employees and customers are in the day-to-day running of an Ethels Chocolate Lounge. A consistent concerted effort on the part of employees to delight the customers by combining all elements available to create a memorable experience frames the critical success factors. How each is continually improved and continually integrated together will determine the lounges success over time.
Most Critical Factor in Motivating Consumers to Spend
The most critical factor in motivating consumers to spend at Ethels Chocolate Lounge is how the purchase and consuming of chocolates creates an experience that delights the consumer. Loyalty is created when a services business can successfully deliver exceptional experiences on a consistent basis and win the trust of its customers (Sedlock, 2010). The packaging and presentation of a service needs to concentrate on setting expectations and lead to positive experiences, not overcommitting but being reasonable and realistic in defining what customers will receive (Spinner, 2009). This is where the aspirational role of high-end chocolates and beverages enter into the marketing strategy of Ethels Chocolate Lounge. The chocolates, presented on menus with small pictures or them and a description of their content do more than just inform the customer what they are ordering. They convey a higher value to them as only the most expensive chocolate manufacturers have the gross margins and profits to support this level of detail. This is part of setting the expectations of customers, as it conveys the value of the chocolates is above average and meant to be savored.
The information card is part of the total experience and in fact sets the expectation of the experience being exceptional. The large couches, smell of fresh coffee and chocolate percolating, the cases of fresh chocolates freshly baked all add up to an exceptional promise of quality (Carter, Young, Rutledge, Armstrong, 2006). The consumer chooses to spend at Ethels to consumer chocolates and have the experience that its unique environment provides.
Prioritizing the Consumer Needs the Ethels Experience Appeals to the Most
The aspirational need of consumers to have an opportunity to consume high quality chocolates and enjoy beverages with friends is the greatest need. Given the pricing, the ambience created, and the scents that permeate the lounges, it is the opportunity to immerse oneself in these surroundings and enjoy them with friends that motivate consumers the most. The second need is to see the latest chocolates and sweets the lounge has introduced recently, in addition to any new beverages. The lounges are designed as a meeting place between home and work, and this is the third need they meet. Friends and family who want to relax yet have an upscale experience are drawn to the lounges as well. Fourth are the actual products themselves as they are only contributing to the total experience and loyalty to the lounges. Due to the prioritization of needs, it is essential that Ethels Chocolate lounges concentrate on providing detailed, high quality information about the chocolates to further inspire trust. Authenticity and transparency are the fuel of customer loyalty and trust (Pine, Gilmore, 2008).
Adrienne Carter, with Lauren Young and Susann Rutledge in New York, Larry Armstrong in Pasadena. (2006, May). Chocolate: Belly Up to the Bar. Business Week,(3983), 106-107.
B. Joseph Pine II, & James H. Gilmore. (2008). The eight principles of strategic authenticity.
Strategy & Leadership, 36(3), 35-40..