Everyone has a last best experience - a stand-out experience that felt seamless, personalized, and left a lasting impression. This experience sets the standard for all subsequent experiences with brands, regardless of the industry they serve or the products they sell.
Few people know this as well as Dan Gingiss, who has built a 20-year career helping businesses create remarkable experiences that customers can’t wait to share. As a CX keynote speaker and coach, Dan himself admits that he can be hard to impress. This might be why he was so blown away by his own last best experience, which occurred when Fleming's Steakhouse went above and beyond to deliver an exceptional birthday celebration for his son.
What Happened During Dan’s Experience at Fleming’s Steakhouse?
Dan’s last best experience began when he asked his son how he wanted to celebrate his upcoming 15th birthday. His son requested Fleming’s Steakhouse, a local restaurant known for their quality food and polished atmosphere. Dan made a reservation online, noting that the occasion was for a birthday celebration.
Many restaurants celebrate birthdays in a similar way: a complimentary slice of cake or other dessert, sometimes accompanied by singing waitstaff. While a nice gesture, it’s common enough to be the standard expectation for birthday dining experiences. Which is why Dan and his family were surprised when, upon being seated at Fleming’s, the maître d' handed his son a birthday card signed by all the staff. After enjoying their meal, they waited with a ton of anticipation for dessert—after all, if Fleming’s had made the experience special from the moment they sat down, how would they end the night?
Fleming’s Steakhouse did not disappoint. At the end of the meal, Dan’s son was surprised with a box of chocolates made in-house, decorated with cocoa powder and topped with a sparkler. Everyone at the table simultaneously took out their phones to document the special moment and share across social media.
Where do you have a candle that you can elevate to a sparkler?Dan Gingiss, Customer Experience Expert and Keynote Speaker
What Made the Experience So Memorable?
So, what made this experience so noteworthy to a CX professional? Dan had a few thoughts. When Fleming’s Steakhouse initially gave Dan’s son a birthday card upon arrival for their reservation, they set the bar for the rest of the experience. This above-and-beyond detail helped build anticipation for everyone at the table. Dan’s daughter even wondered what would come next – afterall, if Fleming’s Steakhouse had already given Dan’s son a birthday card, what else could be in store for the rest of the experience?
Do you have a last best experience story of your own?
How Elevating Common Experiences Creates Shareable Moments
A free dessert at the end of a celebratory meal is a nice gesture, but it’s also a common and expected dining experience nowadays. Where Fleming’s Steakhouse succeeded in this experience was in taking a common dining experience and putting their own memorable spin on it. By beginning and ending the meal with an extra flourish, Fleming’s Steakhouse created a shareable moment for everyone at the table. This demonstrates that a great customer experience can be as simple as surprising and delighting a customer by elevating a common, expected experience.
Delivering an exceptional experience doesn’t necessarily mean creating new customer touchpoints. Instead, companies can take a common customer experience and put their own, unique spin on it. The lesson Dan Gingiss really drives home here is that companies should always be thinking about where they have a candle that they can elevate to a sparkler. If you’re ready to create remarkable experiences that your customers can’t wait to share, check out Dan’s book, The Experience Maker.