Episode #79: Customer Experience, it’s What’s for Dinner

Grad Conn

February 17, 202110 min read

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Today we talk about food. Specifically, the experience around food choices and food preparation. Cooks know that the art of preparation can be just as enjoyable as the meal itself. And there’s a lesson there for our own customer experiences. Plus, I throw in my famous Mushrooms à la Boursin recipe, on the house.

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All right. Welcome to the CXM Experience. I am Grad Conn, CXO at Sprinklr. Back as usual, every weekday, talking about stuff to do with experiences.

Today I want to talk a little bit about the world of plant-based alternatives. We’re going to go vegan today. That’s kind of fun, right? I will say, I struggled with that word for a long time. My youngest daughter was vegan for a while. And for some reason I kept wanting to pronounce it “vay-gan.” I think Vega is a planet in the Star Trek universe. Maybe there’s something like that. I like “vay-gan.” But vegan is the correct pronunciation. And I just double checked it a few minutes ago to make sure.

So today, I wanted to talk a little bit about how food is changing. And it was kicked off by something I saw on CNN today. A neat little headline. They do a pretty good job these days of writing headlines that mean you have to click through. So, nice clickbait headline. And the headline was “Nestle’s newest Kit Kat is missing a key ingredient.” Missing a key ingredient. Well, not really missing. It’s actually been replaced. The new Kit Kat coming from Nestle… and Kit Kat, of course, one of my favorite chocolate bars. I don’t see them as much in the US, but certainly huge chocolate bar in Canada. And Nestle is obviously huge in Canada as well. And Kit Kats are just super delicious with the thin wafers and the chocolate. It’s all good.

Anyway, they’ve come up with a new Kit Kat bar, which is Kit Kat vegan. It’s called Kit Kat V. But underneath the V it says vegan. So it’s pretty cool. The company is jumping on the plant-based alternative food trend started by things like the impossible burger and stuff like that. And Nestle is promising that the new candy still has the perfect balance between crispy wafer and smooth chocolate.

So, what they’ve done is they’ve replaced dairy milk, which is used in most chocolate and regular Kit Kats, for a rice-based alternative. And a new type of sustainable cocoa. And it’ll start going on sale later this year in 2021 in a bunch of different countries. And obviously will expand worldwide once they get results as they come in. And they did say they focus a lot on taste. And they took an iterative approach to create something that was still delicious and tasted like a Kit Kat. But not made from an animal product.

This follows Mars. Mars in 2019 did a line of vegan chocolate bars. And Lindt and Cadbury have also done some stuff in the vegan category as well. And the trend is continuing to grow.

It’s interesting, this idea of food, and how we eat and the way we eat, has been interesting. People have been talking about vegan and vegan diets for a really long time. And the impact on the environment. And the impact on our lives of our dependence on cows in particular, is very significant. And… all I had to say is “cows” and my dog is now dreaming of something. Hang on a second. Let me just wake her up. Hang on a second… She’s fine now. Anyway, so… working from home baby.

Anyway. So, there’s some pretty interesting evidence on the amount of methane that is produced by cows, on the amount of deforestation that’s been caused by planting pastures and putting cows in place, and on the cost of creating a cow-based economy. Because essentially, cows don’t eat meat, right? Cows eat plants, and essentially turn the plants into meat, then we eat the meat. We could just eat the plants. We’re sort of processing via the cow. We could just eat it directly. And doing that would save a lot of money and save a lot of the environment. It would reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly.

There are some people who believe that much of our climate change challenge is being caused by our dependency on cows. And as people, as economies online and get more wealth, cow meat becomes a big part of the economy. And then next thing you know we’re ripping forests down, getting rid of farms, and eating cows. Interesting trend.

There is a great restaurant called Full Bloom. And Full Bloom is actually based in Miami. I went there for Valentine’s Day this year. It was a really superduper fun time. And Full Bloom is a vegan restaurant. Everything that they do there is plant based. I had a absolutely delicious meal. And they had a “tuna” appetizer, but it was actually smoked watermelon, if you can imagine. It was absolutely incredible. And there was a beet dish that was spectacular. Kind of a beet carpaccio which was pretty neat. And then many other things that you can do with plants.

And I think if you take enough imagination and do enough interesting things, you can have a lot of fun with plants. I think part of the problem sometimes with vegetables and plants is that we have always treated them as an aside. You just stick it on the side of the plate, steam it, maybe throw a sauce on it. But typically we don’t spend a lot of time or attention on our vegetables. And if you do, you can have a lot more fun with them.

I’ll give you an interesting little vegetable recipe. We were talking about potato salad yesterday. So this will be recipe week. Maybe not every day. But maybe a couple more recipes as we go through the week. Here’s a superduper fun thing that you can do. That will taste amazing and will be really fun. It’ll surprise people in your life.

Mushrooms are really fun these days. You can get a lot of different kinds of mushrooms. Portabella mushrooms, all sorts of different kinds of field mushrooms, and button mushrooms, and the usual suspects. And mushrooms are a lot of fun to fry, and to bake and broil. Mushrooms have got a lot of different textures to them. You can have a lot of fun with them.

So one thing I would recommend is to put a frying pan… ideally, you’re going to want to use an iron skillet. I find that that does the nicest job in terms of browning a mushroom. And then put in probably two tablespoons of butter. And about two tablespoons of some kind of high heat, vegetable oil. Not olive oil because it burns at too low a temperature. Something like safflower oil, peanut oil, but that’s a bit dodgy, not everyone can eat peanut oil. But safflower oil is maybe one of my favorites. Or sunflower oil sometimes works too. Avocado is not too bad.

And the reason you put the butter and the oil together is that the butter causes the mushrooms to brown. And then the oil prevents the butter from burning. So that’s how you put them together. So put that in a nine-inch iron skillet. And then just get whole mess of mushrooms. And get a bunch of different kinds if you can. D’Artagnan is a fantastic online ordering place. D’Artagnan has a really great mushroom mix. Just throw all that in. Or you can get it from your local store. And so fry that up and let it simmer. It should be still be pretty liquidy and starting to brown after about 10 to 15 minutes. Looking pretty interesting.

Leave the liquid in the pan. Don’t take the liquid out of the pan. And here it is. Get a package of Boursin cheese. Cut the wheel in half. And then chop that half into slightly smaller pieces. And while the skillet is still on, so while the frying pan is still on the heat, drop the pieces of Boursin into the mushrooms that still have liquid in them. There should still be liquid in the pan. Not too much, just a few tablespoons. Immediately turn the heat off. Because if you leave the heat on, the cheese will start to burn. You don’t want to do them. But you need to hit pan still hot and then stir the Boursin. So, Boursin is a soft cheese, very low melting point. The Boursin will essentially turn into a sauce in the pan.

And the great thing is that the Boursin’s already got salt and pepper and all this spice, like it’s already a sauce. So then let that melt around. Stir it up. Not too long. You don’t have a ton of time here. You’ve got probably 30 to 45 seconds. Because if you leave the Boursin in too long, and it gets too hot, then it’ll actually start to harden because it’ll start to boil off its moisture. So, you got to do this kind of quick. Then serve the mushrooms alongside something, or just serve the mushrooms.

De-licious. And it’s completely not a vegan meal because it’s got dairy in it. But it is a vegetable meal, and no cows were killed in the making of it. So, try that. Kind of a fun recipe. And I’m not 100% sure how we got here. But that’s what we were talking about today in experience.

I think, let me pull it around the corner a little bit here just to make it experienced based. You know, cooking… and we may do more of this as we build out the show. Cooking is an interesting experience. What’s interesting about cooking is that it is in and of itself an experience, right? The experience of making the meal. And there are many cases when I’ll make a meal, I’ll actually have more fun making the meal than eating it. Or sometimes I don’t even bother eating it.

And sometimes people will be like, hey, you’re taking too long, or you’re so slow, or whatever. But I actually love the process of making it. I love the process of timing, I love the process of pulling it all together. And that to me is what makes it really, really special.

And so, as you think about experience with your customers, remember that in many cases, a lot of times the journey is actually part of what the customer loves. And so, trying to get the customer right to the sale quickly, may not be the most important thing to do, or may not even be something they want to do. They might want to luxuriate in the experience of the shopping. They may want to luxuriate in the process of choosing, they want to luxuriate in the process of imagining, thinking about new things. So sometimes it’s fun to cook slow, and sometimes it’s fun to mess around and do some fun stuff you haven’t done before. And sometimes it’s fun to use Boursin as a sauce. So, enjoy. Have a good time. I’ll see you tomorrow. For the CXM Experience, I’m Grad Conn, and I’ll see you next time.

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