Despite its reputation as a suffocating bureaucracy, China is a place where virtually anything is possible and everything is available. Want a custom-made suit for less than US$50? Knock-off Italian furniture? Unlocked iPhones? China has it all — if you know the right person on the right street corner. This no-holds-barred approach, or abundance service, has become legendary at places like Shanghai hot-pot restaurant Hai Di Lao (海底捞火锅店).
“THIS IS THE BEST FRICKING HOT POT RESTAURANT ON THE FACE OF THE PLANET!!!” wrote one reviewer. “It rivals the Ritz Carlton. Free drinks if you want them. They will bring new eyeglass-wiping cloths to wipe the steam from your glasses and offer to do it for you. …there is a children’s playroom, and there are small tables with Chinese Checkers and Chinese Chess, and they have a team of women who will give you a professional manicure. THIS PLACE IS AWESOME.”
Note that this breathless review raves about the utterly satisfying dining experience, not the meal. The restaurant’s reputation is for service—and, increasingly, that’s what customers are coming to expect.
What customers are coming to expect
An interesting excerpt from IDEO's Patterns: