Can I Get The Menu Please? – Of Product Communication And Lost Customers

I was with my friends at the UB City Mall in Bangalore last weekend. The only time I had been more uncomfortable was when I visited the Nepal’s Royal Palace, 10 yrs back. Just so many luxury and high end brands at one place, nothing in Delhi or Mumbai matches this. The most low end and affordable store there was Apple’s Imagine(Sorry all the fanboys). We crossed an open wall chocolate lounge. Whatever I saw in the display section was just too tempting. There was no price mentioned but the Baniya in me believed that something that sits between a Gucci and a luxury diamond store will be equally
unaffordable and insisted not to even look at it again. I looked around and my chocolate crazy friend was already ordering something. I asked him, “Do you even know how much that small piece of costs? We could order pizzas for all of us for that price.” He said “Then lets skip pizza for a month“. Just to not leave my friend alone and get a free bite, I decided to join him, with my heart still pounding. I showed some courage and asked the waiter if he had more flavors and if he could get me the menu? That was the most un-embarrassing way to ask for the price. He brought the menu and I was surprised with what I saw. The price was only a little more, if not equal to, than any regular place like Barista/Mongini’s etc.

That place left me wondering as to how many like me would not have shown courage to ask for the price or to face the embarrassment of finding it unaffordable. The chocolate lounge would have so many more customers if there was more information available without asking.

Every evening while returning from office I pass by a street side Pakoda stall. The smell of Pakodas always tempt me to grab a hot plate but I never did so. I am a vegetarian and most places in my neighborhood are ‘pure’ non-vegetarian. The few vegetarian places, write ‘pure vegetarian’ in big bold letters. More so, there is a butcher center just next to this Pakoda stall. I have always been complaining of not getting good north Indian snacks in Bangalore and even tried MoMos with Ketchup in the same quest but never tried those Pakodas. Today my Kannada friend brought a little surprise for me, some hot Pakodas. I enquired and it was the same place that I pass by everyday. I was disgusted for once but then he told me that the vendor was a Brahmin, he can’t even talk non-veg, forget about selling non-veg.

Well, the fact that he was a Brahmin wasn’t written on his face. Although the prices were written on a board along the stall but apart from numbers everything was in Kannada. I wonder if he has lost many customers like me just because they couldn’t figure out what he was selling.

Very recently I was hunting for a good deal on group buying sites for a nice eat out. I saw a very attractive deal at one of the more popular sites. A good 50% off on a-la-carte but the menu was not available on the site. I googled for the restaurant and to my surprise another competing but less popular site had a deal for the same restaurant but it was 30% off on buffet. The menu was mentioned and looked sumptuous, nothing less than what I would have ordered with a-la-carte. I bought the deal immediately.

Thinking of it later I felt that the more popular site lost a customer just because it did not have enough information on the site. Although saying a-la-carte shouldn’t have required mentioning the menu but still it helps me make a more informed decision. It reduces my risk. Although live chat support was available on the site but I did not bother asking someone without googling for it.

Your product perception will always be influenced by your surrounding and the presumptions that your customer carries. It helps to be explicit and upfront. Not everyone would invest in asking for more information before making a decision. In the world of web and organised businesses the first thing you would want to do for your customer is help him take an informed decision.

Almost every time you go to a new place, the ease you feel is much to do with how much information is available. If you have traveled in Mumbai local trains and Delhi Metro, you will know how much of a user experience changes just by having enough information.

Go change your product page. Put all the information upfront, be honest. More information helps me consider your product while making a decision. You won’t even know how many customers you are losing just because they don’t find your communication informative enough. Keep iterating the communication as the market conditions change.

What’s your opinion?

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[Naman is a startup enthusiast and has worked with couple of Indian startups as Product Manager. He is the founder of FindYogi]

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