Simplify the Choices and Create a Better Customer Experience

This simple tactic can reduce costs, reduce stress, and help create a better boutique business - and life!

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Earlier this week, my boyfriend and I were visiting his parents, were in charge of cooking brunch on Sunday morning. Since the guys were watching the Masters, I walked over to Whole Foods to get a few last-minute items. One of the things on the list was refrigerated biscuits. Now, I had already asked what type I was supposed to get: Flaky? Dense? Buttery? (this brunch crowd is a fun one, but a bit particular). So, I was a bit nervous about choosing the biscuits that would make everyone happy.

Well, lo' and behold, I get to Whole Foods and there is only ONE option. That's it - there was no choice to be made.

Can I just tell you that that was the most relaxing moment of my weekend? Not having a choice.

Think about it - there are so many options out there EVERY DAY. Even choosing a shampoo at Target can be a chore. How can there be so many options within a single brand? What if I want my hair to be smooth AND voluminous?

It's counter-intuitive, but fewer choices actually decreases stress. So, if you want your guests to feel more relaxed and calm, consider reducing the number of decisions they have to make - this means fewer choices.

If you want your guests to be more calm and relaxed, give them fewer choices.

I once stayed at what was then The Golden Lemon on St. Kitts (fabulous hotel) and every morning they would bring breakfast to your room. With breakfast there was a card that listed the evening's dinner menu. It was a very limited menu, but there were a couple of salads, 3-4 entrees, etc. Anyway, when you put your breakfast tray out for the housekeepers to pick up, you had to also leave the menu card on which you had circled what you wanted for dinner. Yes, you made the decision that morning.

At first I found this odd, but when you arrived at dinner, you sat down and were served. No decisions. You just enjoyed. It was like being in someone's home.

It was so infused with hospitality.

Did you know there is something called the Paradox of Choice? The New York Times had a great article about it a few years ago that you can read here, but essentially it says that when we have more choices, we are LESS satisfied.

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I”m sure you’ve heard about the famous jam study. If not, here is the short version: at an upscale grocery store in CA, customers were offered samples of Wilkin and Sons Jams. Sometimes, they were offered 6 flavors and sometimes 24 flavors.

The thinking was, people like more choices, so providing more flavors should result in higher sales.

Well, when they offered the 24 flavors, more people stopped to sample than when they offered six. However, of the group that stopped to sample the 24 flavors (60%) of the customers), only 3% purchased. Of the customers (40%) who stopped to sample the 6, 30% purchased.

So, think about reducing the decisions and the choices. This one tactic can change your business, your stress levels and even reduce costs. Think about if you slimmed down your menu. If you ONLY provided local produce. If at your complimentary happy hour, you served only one red and one white.

Try it - give them fewer choices and I bet you will end up with happier, more relaxed customers, a happier, more relaxed you, and a better experience for all.