16 September 2014

Ask Simple Questions – The Beauty of Raspberry Tart

I got old again and this year it so happed that I’m spending my birthday in Bucharest – the city I called home for about 21 years. Being here, I remembered one of my previous visits to my favourite restaurant – La Casa (if you ever go to Bucharest, it’s a must go… the special thing about this place is that it has nothing special – everything is as it should be).

After having dinner, the waiter came and asked:

“Would you like some raspberry tart?”

We answered “Yes”, even if we didn’t plan to have desert and we were quite full.

There is a special kind of beauty in the waiter’s question, and not the intrinsic beauty of raspberry tart :)

Usually waiters ask “would you like some desert”. And usually the answer is “No”. The thing is that “desert” is a rather abstract term, it has few (no) visual associations (desert can be anything from fruit salad to raspberry tart and to chocolate cake) and it has almost zero emotional load. Moreover, when asking someone: “Would you like some desert?” the respondent realizes that if he answers “yes”, he’ll have to make a subsequent choice between delicious things.
Making a choice is often difficult, so when asked “would you like some desert?” the client of the restaurant will go with the default option which is “No”. Just to be clear, one portion of food for dinner in Romania is usually enough to feed two French-men and beer and wine are relatively cheap, so we drink a lot.

However, when asking “would you like some raspberry tart?”, the client immediately imagines the tart which looks delicious. Moreover, raspberry tart can and usually has emotional associations. Now it is less likely that he will refuse it.

This approach could be used in an area in which Romania lags behind most EU countries (not that it doesn’t lag at most things) – namely bank-card payments. Most people in urban areas have bankcards, yet quite few use them for payments – most people withdraw cash from ATMs and use it.

A very simple nudge would be for the cashier (or whoever takes the money) to simply ask “would you like to pay by bankcard?”. This can be used in on-line shops as well, considering that about two thirds of online purchases are done with cash (yes, that is possible – people pay the delivery guy).

It will not bring miracles, but it will be a step forward. And a very beautiful one!

A simple question can lead to beautiful results.  

I’m off to “La Casa” http://www.restaurantcasa.ro/ to enjoy my first real beer in 6 months. Happy birthday to me :)

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