I had a wonderful customer service experience the other night. A friend of mine and myself decided to hit up Pita Jungle in Chandler, AZ for dinner. Now – this was a Friday night. During the dinner rush. We ordered not only our drinks and meals, but also as an appetizer, a split plate of Roasted Bell Pepper Hummus & Cilantro Jalapeno Hummus.

As we enjoyed our dinner conversation, we realized….no hummus. The waiter came by, and without our prompting – noticed we didn’t have our hummus. The next thing we know – our dinner has arrived…and still no hummus.

Now – the hummus – not a big deal. But to our waiter – it was. Again, without any comment from us  – he apologized. He explained he’d told the kitchen that it was an appetizer, and to get it done – and showed them the receipt to prove it. A few minutes later, he came back, with his manager, who also apologized, gave us the hummus at no charge, and then gave us free orders of baclawa for desert as well.

Here’s the thing. We never said a word. Never registered a complaint. Not even a funny look. Yet, they bent over backwards for us. During a dinner rush.

Both of us immediately posted Yelp, Foresquare and Facebook Places reviews – mine being “Best. Service. Ever!”.  Now – in the end, this probably cost, in terms of free product, about $10.00 to them. Yet, what did they get for that? They just turned two customers into brand evangelists. Even before leaving the restaurant, we’d posted positive reviews for them. We’ve both told friends, family – hell, just about anybody that would listen – what a great restaurant they have, how great their service is – basically just did more marketing for them than they’ve done for themselves in the last month. And…we’d do it again!

What does this mean for your business? Simple. People don’t buy brands anymore. Seth Godin recently commented that we’ve “branded ourselves to death” – and we have. It’s not about the brand. It’s about one’s association to the brand. It’s about belonging. Feeling that, as Seth put it, “part of a tribe”. When you care about your customer – you show that they belong to you. It has to be sincere. You have to mean it. And, when you do – and your customers know it – they come back. And they bring others to the tribe. It all starts with how you treat your customer.

And…it doesn’t hurt if you give them free baclawa as well. 🙂