Customer experience lessons from a donut shop

Written by Michael Lee on June 21, 2016

If you’re ever out at Carolina Beach in North Carolina do your taste buds a favor and go to Britt’s donuts and pickup some of their famous donuts. The best way I can describe them is a chewier and crispier Krispy Kreme glazed donut.

While I was there this afternoon — enjoying their delectable donuts — I noticed three things about the customer experience:

Tax is included

Each donut at Britt’s costs a dollar and that includes tax.

I discovered this when I showed up at the donut shop to discover that they only accepted cash. Panicking that I wouldn’t be able to have any donuts I pulled out my wallet to discover I had a five-dollar bill. I walked up to the lady at the counter and asked how many donuts I could get with five bucks. While glancing at the menu I assumed I’d only be able to get four since each donut was a dollar. But she said I could get five. I thought she was just being nice since I had my cute daughter in my arm while ordering.

But to my surprise I looked at the menu again while I was eating my donuts and discovered that the price of each donut was a dollar tax included.

I thought this was great because folks don’t have to do any complex math. It’s a simple one for one transaction. Perhaps the donut shop had their customers in mind; being located in a beach town, folks probably don’t want to walk around in their beach clothes with change clanging around.

Or perhaps they had their employees in mind. In that the dollar price removes the need to do any complex math while serving the long lines of eager patrons wanting to eat their awesome donuts.

Whatever the reason, my stomach was happy that I got to walk away with five donuts instead of four.

Nothing fancy

At Britt’s donuts there is only a single type of donut. Glazed and plain. No bacon, frosting, filling or powder. Simple yet so tasty. The place has been around since 1939. I’m not sure if there has been other donuts served during their 70+ years of existence but it’s inspiring and I think other businesses can learn a lesson from this.

You don’t need anything fancy or serve up everything there is to serve. Just a single item is enough and can carry an entire business for generations.

Must eat immediately

Out of the five donuts that I bought, I ate two, my wife ate one and my son ate one. Somehow we didn’t immediately devour the last donut and brought it home and I ate it the next day.

While most donuts from better known donut shops would have lasted a few days before becoming stale and flavorless, my day-old donut was already stale. The donut still tasted good but compared to eating it right from the shop, the experience was lackluster.

I actually appreciated this. It meant that something that good shouldn’t have a long shelf life. The donut should be enjoyed immediately. It means that when I’m craving Britt’s donuts, I can’t just buy a box of dozen and store it to enjoy. I have to hop in my car, drive 2.5 hours there, eat as many donuts that I can enjoy right then and there, drive 2.5 hours back reminiscing until my next trip.

I’m not sure if any of these experiences were intentional business decisions made by the owers of Britt’s donuts but I can tell you that collectively they make the donut eating experience that much sweeter.

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