A Recipe for Customer Success Instalment 4



We catch up with the team 12 months later. What have they learned, what happened?
What worked, what changes did they make? Is Sue-Chef thriving from a more
personalised customer offering? Let's find out...

Henry Ford is credited with this piece of wisdom; "If I just asked my customers
what they wanted they would have asked for a faster horse".

The story so far: Elsi and the Sue-Chef team have completed a critical review of their operational processes, marketing strategy and financial performance and have embarked on a recalibration of the way they manage their relationship with customers.

There is a new understanding of the importance of building customer trust and the work this entails;

  1. Demonstrating that you have the customer’s best interests at heart and
  2. You are competent to deliver these best interests
  3. Reassuring the customer, even when they are not buying, that you are ready to serve them when they need you.

Customer loyalty is the outcome and Fred’s financial analysis has shown the negative consequences for Sue-Chef of not achieving this.

But knowing does not immediately make implementation easy. The Sue-Chef executive team embarked on a process and strategy redesign determined to become more customer-centric. Twelve months later the early financial results are positive and trending higher.

(In the 17th century, clerics, the marketing experts of their day, produced treatises debating how many angels can dance on a needle’s point…)

It was a warm spring evening. Dave and Fred are seated at Elsi’s kitchen bench as she opens a Sue-Chef meal box for three and a good bottle of red wine. They are celebrating the experience of working with Sue and the team as they debated, argued, evaluated, and then implemented a raft of changes to their business model that are already having a positive impact on customer loyalty and company profitability.

Elsi’s balcony doors are open and the loud blasts from ferries approaching McMahon’s Point wharf occasionally interrupt the conversation with their foghorn warning on this crystal clear harbour-city night.

“Hey Dave, can you please prepare the vegetables while I open the wine?” asked Elsi, peering in the box at the ingredients for the vegetable curry they plan to cook together.

“No problem,” answered Dave. “It will give us a chance to chat about the important things Sue-Chef did to get to where they are this last quarter. This is an impressive red wine, excellent choice.”

“It was a fun project wasn’t it,” added Fred, “mainly because the team has a bias to act once the decisions are made. And they already had a store of customer goodwill and engagement to work with. What do you think the breakthrough initiatives were? Apart from asking us to help of course.”

“It started when Sue and Jeff acknowledged they had to improve product quality first, then get more personal with customers. This decision led to better data-guided communications and enhanced connectivity. They already understood that special benefits for best customers were effective, they are engaged and see them as a genuine ‘thank you,’ not a sales gimmick, but they buy more as a result,” volunteered Elsi after a pause, a sniff, and a sip of wine. “It is a mistake to only offer exclusive deals to non-customers, it screams that loyalty is not as important as new business.”


“Implementation took a lot of effort though, all credit to them,” added Dave. “The internal task force moved a lot of marketing spend to the ‘bottom of the pyramid’ first, to remove any reason for complaint, making ordering frictionless and giving service staff the authority to fix and compensate customers for stuff-ups on the first call. That raised morale internally for a start and the customers noticed. Then the digital teams geared up and really connected with busy customers, launching that interactive calendar that lets customers align their social calendars with kit delivery, pausing or doubling up, or changing portions. That is cool and a significant improvement in the customer experience. I can now decide to throw a dinner party next Wednesday and simply add meals to my scheduled delivery or leave it to the last minute and order pre-cooked from their delivery partners if I don’t want to cook.”

A noisy blast from the 7:05 ferry interrupted the conversation, giving them time to think about the project and the lessons learned. And taste the snacks laid out as appetizers.

“That’s smelling good Dave,” said Elsi as the spices in the curry paste cooked off, “better than the curries our ex-Prime Minister is famous for I reckon!”. “The back-office challenges to providing that level of flexibility were considerable though, their food prep and warehousing systems needed automation and redesign, but they got it done. And with added operational agility, the Marketing and Analytics teams really got innovative, which led to meaningful change for the customer.”

Fred joined in. “They improved the timeliness of communications about schedules and deliveries, including reminders at the critical times and providing tracking for meals that were critical to keep customers informed. They added personalised offerings to high-value customers and look-alikes, using order history and self-reported preferences to give menu suggestions, even encouraged customers to nominate their own menus that they would fulfill if possible. They made personal online dining histories and ratings available to all customers – so busy families can record what they liked and mix it up for variety.”

“Lots achieved by a motivated small team,” Elsi agreed. “The smart use of data that turned into a real money spinner was the win-back campaign that identified HV customers who had left voluntarily. The offer of a ‘chef-concierge’ enticed a lot of them back and the new experience was enough for them to keep buying, at least so far. The little extras that are now included, like drinks and deserts, provided by partners, increased the value of the boxes to customers without costing Sue-Chef anything more than tiny packing costs.”

We hope you enjoyed reading 'A Recipe for Customer Success'! Please download the full instalment to find out more about the targeted loyalty program Sue-Chef implemented.


We are Ellipsis, the Customer Loyalty Experts. We help businesses thrive through solving complex customer problems. Please  get in touch, we’d love to talk. 



1. Sharp vs Ritson’, following the impressive success of: How Brands Grow: What Marketers Don’t Know by Byron Sharp (goodreads.com)

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