In order for a company to stay competitive in today’s environment they need to get creative in the ways that they provide customer service. Increasing customer satisfaction is getting more competitive the more innovative companies are getting, and the higher a customer’s expectations are. Customers do not only expect to be greeted with a friendly employee, but also expect to be wowed in some way by your company. I mean a friendly employee is definitely a solid start for a company, but in order to really make the experience exceptional a company needs to go above and beyond.
This past week I visited Panda Express to grab dinner, and I got to thinking, do their free samples really increase the consumers overall satisfaction? I know that Panda Express is not the only company to offer free samples, they are one of many companies following this practice. I know that many consumers are delighted at the opportunity to technically “try before they buy,” but what about the customers who have no intent of purchasing a certain entrée, but are more than willing to take a sample of the product. This may not seem like a big deal, but a trend I have noticed is that the sample is usually a shrimp entrée, that Panda Express has an extra charge for if selected.
These are known as “premium entrees” and will always cost a little extra if chosen. This may not seem like a big deal, however I have noticed a trend throughout the times that I have chosen to eat at Panda Express; customers sample the shrimp, but don’t buy. There have been multiple times I have been behind customers who would like to sample the shrimp, and do not even seem to consider the purchase, because they clearly already knew what they wanted, which was a non-premium entrée. I questioned whether offering these free samples really helped the company, or does it diminish their supply, which is why they have to charge extra in the first place. If for example a quarter of the product is given away for free by sampling, this could hurt the company’s overall profit, and just drive up the extra charge for these premium entrees.
I am not saying that sampling is bad, in many ways it is a positive for a company. Consumers have a better experience overall, and are less likely to return an entire purchase because they were not satisfied. In this way sampling is great! Because an entire entrée being tossed because of a customer not liking the product is avoided by them sampling the item before purchase. Sampling also allows customers to try a new item they may not have purchased initially, which I believe is the true reason for this practice. If a customer is hesitant on the shrimp for example, but after the sample they choose the entrée, then Panda Express made the sale. So as you can tell there are definitely pros and cons to sampling.
How do you feel about being offered a free sample by a company? Does that make you more or less likely to purchase from them again? Let me know by leaving a comment!