I am currently reading Tom Peter’s book, The Little Big Things and his very first story is a customer satisfaction story that struck a chord with me  But first, some housekeeping:

The Author: Tom Peters

Tom Peters is the co-author of the  classic book “In Search of Excellence” and authored other well known texts  such as ” A Passion for Excellence”,” Thriving on Chaos”, “The Pursuit of Wow”, and many other books. He is also a popular world class speaker.

The Book: The Little BIG Things – 163 Ways to Pursue Excellence.

As the subtitle implies, this book provides many chapters covering interesting ways an organization can pursue excellence through it’s top management actions. The target audience is top management and middle management in a fairly large organizations. . Tom has taken hundreds of blog posts and assembled them together in this substantial book of good advice and relevant stories.

The Customer Satisfaction story

In the first chapter in the book, Tom talks about a 170 mile trip he takes from his country home in Vermont to the airport in Boston to fly to his next ‘engagement’. He routinely stops at one particular Drive in restaurant about half way. Why does he stop regularly at this one place? Mostly because the restroom is ‘clean to sparkling’. One would think that other factors would draw him to this place over others: the food, the service, the friendly staff. But no, it was the restroom. To him the sparkling clean restroom yells out to him ‘WE CARE’.

How often do we study our customer’s satisfaction through our own perception of what customers would value. How many would have picked the spotless, clean, washroom, as a key driver in retaining a customer? Probably not too many of us. How many people would have included clean washroom as a question item on a customer satisfaction survey for this drive in restaurant?

Yet, what Tom Peters is telling us, is that these small things matter to someone who has just driven 87 miles and is stopping to refresh? It makes you think.

Do we know what our customers value?


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Adele Berenstein

Adele Berenstein is an Experienced Customer Satisfaction Executive, recently retired from a Large Global IT Organization after a long productive management career including Sales, Marketing, Services, teaching and education center management and most recently, 19 years in customer satisfaction management. She turned around divisions with customer satisfaction problems, implemented measurable improvements and management systems, and implemented programs to prevent problems from ever affecting customers.

7 Responses to “Customer Satisfaction from The Little Big Things – Restaurants”

  1. Customer Satisfaction - the Value of Listening | Customer Satisfaction and Reputation Management Says:

    […] my Blog by email for updates on this topic.Powered by WP Greet Box WordPress PluginIn a recent post Customer Satisfaction from The Little Big Things – Restaurants, I described the book ‘The Little Big Things’ by Tom Peters, co author of ‘In […]

  2. Rick Daucunas Says:

    By chance the other day in a telephone talk back section of our local newspaper a person mentioned a wonderful diner with great food and service, but the bathrooms are always filthy and the caller wanted to know why the health department hadn’t done something about it. I’m wondering why the patron didn’t complain about it to management? Small things matter, yes and its a two way street. We as patrons, should provide clear constructive feedback.

  3. Adele Says:


    Thank you for this wonderful example of the reverse of the Tom Peters example. What is interesting is the statistic that 25 of 26 people will not complain. They just go somewhere else the next time! Restaurants and other businesses need to pay attention to those that do complain. Their few complaints are actually the tip of the iceberg.

  4. Frank Says:

    I understand Tom’s reason for stopping at one particular restaurant. When you have traveled a number of hours the first thought is to visit a restroom. If the restroom is clean it means the management cares about the little things. If it is dirty I will not be eating in the restaurant. The thought of how clean the kitchen gives me shivers.

    Also if the tables are bussed quickly and the table cleaned with a fresh clean cloth adds to the image of small things mean something.

    Companies taking care of small things gives the indication they can be trusted with larger things.

    @Rick D You are right. Businesses want and deserve the honest evaluation of their establishment. That is the quickest way they can improve and/or maintain a high level of quality. Businesses that ignore feedback are businesses headed for a train wreck.

  5. Adele Says:


    I agree. When travelling, restrooms are very important. Thanks for your observation. I also watch out for where the restrooms are. If I have to go down a big flight of stairs to get to a restroom and it is dark and small, even if clean, it has a negative effect on my impression of the restaurant. Design of the customer experience should include little things as well as the big obvious ones.


  6. Dinah Hikes Says:

    Hi there could I reference some of the information from this post if I reference you with a link back to your site?

  7. Adele Says:

    Sure, feel free to link from your site to mine. The topic is relevant.

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