Red Robin Music – Playing Madonna’s, Like a Virgin?

Today’s blog gives me a chance to combine my role at UMix with a far more important role in my life – dad.  I think anyone can relate to the Red Robin case below – but parents in particular will find it hitting close to home.

My wife operates a consulting business that serves school districts.  The business provides strategies to assist schools in working with children who have behavioral difficulties.  One benefit of her career is that during the summer she has the ability to spend lots of time with our own children.

A recent day of shopping for school supplies had my wife and kids visiting a local Red Robin restaurant for lunch.  The visit was short-lived and the story she told is instructive to anyone serving customers.

While a table was being prepared, they were sitting in a waiting area under a speaker and could not help but hear the restaurant’s music selection.  It wasn’t long before Madonna’s 1984 pop song Like a Virgin was playing – and loudly enough to be conspicuous – especially to children.  Being aware that the question, “What’s a virgin, mommy?” was soon to be asked, my wife quickly shuffled the kids out for lunch elsewhere.  That conversation can be held later in life…

Earlier in my career I was a Quality Engineer for a major drug company.  The more experienced Engineers used to preach about making certain each consumer package was 100% perfect.  The idea was that a smudge on the label sent a bad signal about the product inside.  It may not be fair and the tablets inside might be fine, but as consumers we make judgments about what’s inside – just by looking at the label.

Playing Like a Virgin in family restaurant at lunch time is like a dark smudge on the label.  It demonstrates that little thought went into the Red Robin music.  And it opens the door for customers to question how much thought went into the rest of the operation of the business.  Was Red Robin as thoughtless about the food?

I am not saying the music has to be perfect.  In fact I think there is no such thing as “perfect” music for a business setting.  Music is very personal and subjective.  I am saying that the music needs to make common sense for any business that wants to achieve a positive customer experience.

How does a business achieve that?  The truth is that there’s no secret sauce.  It takes an understanding of your business and who you serve, and some effort to make decisions and tweaks.  We’ll soon write a post about that process to provide more details.