Balakarthik Venkataramanan
August 29, 2016

Ring the bell, if you’re treated well! Behavior engineering lessons from a road side food truck.

Behaviour Engineering

I knew that the evening was going to be slow with my wife visiting her cousin for a couple of days with our toddler. Felt super lazy, definitely not in the mood to cook nor was I in a mood for fine dine. Fast food sounded like a great idea and my taste buds begged for some flavorful Mexican food. Hey, there is a food truck that I have noticed just outside the mall nearby that always looks super busy on the weekends. Food must be pretty good, may be I should try that.

I was by the food truck in the next 10 mins. Hmmm…not too crowded but still looked busy with 7-8 customers ahead of me in the line. After waiting in the line for a couple of mins, I heard a bell ring ‘DING, DING, DING’. I was too busy checking Facebook on my phone so didn’t pay too much attention.‘DING, DING, DING’, the bell went again and this time I heard “Thank you, please come again” from inside the truck.


After a couple of mins, there it was… turn to order. The conversation started with an unusual greeting, “First time here?” asked Sam. (He was wearing a name tag). “Yup”, I responded. “you are going to love the food, what can I get you?”, this was Sam.

“Hmmmm…I need something spicy & vegetarian”.  Sam responded right away “I know what exactly you need, my friend. Let me surprise you. You will love it”. I was already impressed with the unusual sound of the bell ringing every couple of mins, so I chose to try the offer (I will tell you about the bell in a little).  Sam did surprise me with an awesome spicy vegetarian burrito and also charged me a dollar less because I didn’t add meat and gave me extra spicy salsa to try. And remember this was an item that wasn’t even on the menu (vegetarian burrito).

I chose to sit there and finish my burrito. The bell kept ringing over and over and over again. Almost every customer (more than 80%, I would say) rang the bell before they left and it was so evident that they were not just satisfied but delighted, with the entire experience (with Sam, with the food, everything). And the bell was placed right next the ordering window with a note that read “Ring the bell if we delighted you and you will come back again”. 

It was amazing to see how this food truck off a street had mastered customer service and above all was re-enforcing their service mastery through this bell. Every time their customers were hearing the bell ring, they were building customer loyalty and their brand.

So what behavior engineering was the bell accomplishing??

That’s simply superb. Such a simple tool/method but the impact it had on customer as well as employee behavior was significant. I have seen the “service bell” concept before at Arby’s (in the US) and Pizza Hut (in India) like the one below but did not see the level of impact the bell had on this food truck and its customers.

Oh, I didn’t realize that it’s been 45 minutes since I came to this place, lost track of time in observing the way Sam & team were passionately delivering an excellent service, enginerring customer behavior, building loyalty and setting a very high bar for customer service. It started to drizzle, let me get going. Oh wait….am I forgetting something??? Yes, indeed! How can I leave without ringing the bell for Sam and team.


An early entrepreneur in social media, Bala is a strategic customer service leader with a track record of customer experience transformations globally. Bala has 2 decades of experience in customer experience strategy & operations for leading brands like Google, Hewlett Packard and Microsoft. Prior to Intuit, Bala was leading global process & business excellence for Google’s trust & safety vendor operations. You can connect with Bala via Linkedin, view his personal blog here, or follow him on Twitter @vbkarthik123

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