In this new podcast, we will talk about the exciting story of a gastronomic restaurant (the 65 degrees) that employs people with Trisomy 21 and other mild disabilities. Its co-founder, Adelaide Aymer, takes stock with us of the first year of operation which, in addition to extensive media coverage, has also enabled 65 degrees to win the award on TripAdvisor. Indeed, 65 degrees has become the N°1 restaurant in Brussels on TripAdvisor, proof if ever there was one that differentiation is a source of added value and that customers know how to recognise it.
In this podcast, Adelaide and I take a look at the genesis of the idea. The marketing of a unique project and the management of customer satisfaction in an atypical establishment.
The lesson in this establishment is that people with disabilities teach us that breaking codes is a source of renewal and success.
The genesis and development of 65 degrees
The genesis of 65 degrees is to be found in the meeting of two couples whose professional experiences were exclusively in large companies. The inspiration comes from the café Le Reflet in Paris, which also employs people with Down’s syndrome.
The work that was carried out in a year and a half was quite tricky, with training courses, recruitment periods, assessments of disabled people twice a year to judge their progress.
The gastronomic environment, with its codes, also requires constant questioning and control. As Adélaïde Aymer says:
“it’s a gastronomic environment, so it’s much more difficult for a person, even a non-disabled person, to work in a gastronomic environment, in a pub. The codes are very different. Good morning, ma’am. Table service, the jacket given to the person, but given back to the same person. All these are particular codes related to gastronomy. And so, all these things put together allow us to achieve a year and a half after the opening, a high level of customer satisfaction and, therefore, a number one on TripAdvisor.”
The video published on the occasion of the restaurant’s first anniversary gives a good overview of the project.
The recipes of success for the 65 degrees
The comments left online by clients are glowing, above and beyond what is served, the project itself is a source of satisfaction. The comment below is an excellent example of the many clients who testify their happiness on social networks.
As Adelaide Aymer rightly points out in the podcast, the quality of the products served is an indispensable prerequisite. The customer first judges what he has on his plate, and the project, the humanity of the project, and the emotions aroused come second. Satisfying customers, therefore, means making a perfect dish and ensuring impeccable service while adding a unique human touch to the establishment. The equation is certainly not easy to solve, but it pays off:
“Overall, [customers] are delighted with the service because when you have lunch or dinner in a restaurant, you are often disappointed with the service. At 65 degrees, there is a] commitment from the employees […]. Customers] arrive in the restaurant, and they are warmly welcomed. What’s more, for the duration of the lunch. They have people before them who are very proud, very happy to come to work and who, thanks to this restaurant, have a place in society […]. And it’s delicious. And in a restaurant, it must be good.”
Quality of service and the hospitality codes
An interesting discussion followed with Adelaide Aymer on service quality in the hospitality sector and the link between the quality of service and customer satisfaction. The service component has an undoubted effect on customer satisfaction and loyalty; indeed; however, in the case of 65 Degrees, the service differs from what one would expect in a gourmet restaurant.
“Very often there’s one who’ll put his hand on your shoulder to see how you’re doing.” By the way, was your day good? It’s pretty rare to hear that in a restaurant. Did you enjoy it? Will you be back? And then there’s a conversational exchange that takes place with the customer. And that’s rare.”
The spontaneity of the staff with Down syndrome, their touchy/feely side, involuntarily but touchingly leads them to break outdated codes. The extraordinary personality of these waiters renews the style, brings a freshness to which the customers are not accustomed but which in this context is acceptable and accepted. Since one does not expect these candid tokens of kindness, the difference between customer expectations and feelings is mostly positive, leading to increased satisfaction which is reflected in the positive comments. The lesson here is that people with disabilities teach us that breaking codes is a source of renewal and success.
At the end of this podcast, what I would like everyone to remember is that customer value comes from differentiation. The 65 degrees is the very illustration of the marketing concept of differentiation. It’s also a great business lesson in a sector that is struggling to find the right balance. And for the team that started the project, without previous hospitality experience, it is also proof that great things can be achieved by being professional down to the last detail and by relying on a strong marketing concept. This story may remind you of a post we published many years ago in which we talked about the Corridor Syndrome that affects entrepreneurs who have worked their entire career in a given sector. The lack of experience in an industry can also bring a new and successful perspective.
Tags: customer experience, customer satisfaction, hospitality