Creating some ‘WOW’ requires more than just chocolate!

I love people (and chocolate too of course) which is why I created The Melting Pot. Creating the best possible experience for customers is a true passion; and a workshop environment provides a golden opportunity to really cherish every guest and ensure they leave happy (with bags filled with chocolate)!

The experience itself is just one part of a journey for my customers – one that starts long before I’m aware of their presence. They will be experiencing my ‘business personality’ via my website and social media platforms. I must encourage their interaction (whether they decide to take part in a workshop or not) and keep in touch with them over a long period of time, strengthening our connection until they are hopefully ready to buy.

I work hard at creating the right business personality for The Melting Pot; involving daily disciplines on social media, quick response times, newsletters and my workshops. I’m fascinated in learning more so I can always review, hone and improve my offering to customers.

One business owner once said to me “I want what you’ve got in your business – I can’t quite put my finger of what it is, but I want it in mine.”

Never one to pass up a challenge, I set to identifying all the elements that go into creating a great customer experience. My aim is on building the best relationships with clients (and creating a ‘WOW moment’ now and again to really make me stand out from the crowd), but my main focus is always on getting all the basics right.

In my opinion, it’s not about theory, spouting statistics on customer retention and yet more examples of bad customer service stories (yawn, we’ve heard them all before) – it’s about getting in the right mindset, sweating the small stuff, and noticing examples of what we CAN DO to create some WOW moments for customers, getting inspired!

I believe the biggest factor is my mindset – how much genuine emphasis I put on making things the best for my customers really matters. If anyone is going to part with their hand-earned money and spend it with me, I really care that i do my best for them. That has to come above anything else.

Then I keep a close eye on all the operations, customer interactions and managing expectations. If you spell out how something is going to work, the customer understands the process and is not left to worry. The way I act on the phone, at events, such as conferences or networking, face-to-face meetings and via written word all count. I am always the face of the business in whatever setting I am in.

I need to ensure the basics are working properly first as doing what I promised I would, or holding up my hand up and explaining why when I can’t do what I promised when this might be necessary. Only then can I look at how I might create some WOW for customers.

This has to be done authentically, and I have to be myself, albeit a ‘business-personality’ style version of me!

Mention chocolate and some of the work in getting people excited is done for me, I do agree. But get the experience wrong or treat the customers badly and no amount of chocolate will win them over.

One for the bucket list?

I talk about the chocolate world opening its doors to you once you consider chocolate as a business – but what about travelling the world in the name of chocolate? 

Did you know that Hotel Chocolat bought the oldest cocoa plantation in St Lucia; the Rabot Estate, they also built a luxury spa, chocolate-inspired boutique hotel there too; The Boucan Hotel which is the trip I’ve put at the top of my bucket list!

They offer ‘tree to bar’ experiences – where you visit the plantation and see first-hand how they cultivate, grow and harvest the crops and turn it into magical chocolate!

Just take a look at the Boucan Hotel attached to the Estate – I can just imagine a dip in that pool, with the scent of chocolate on the air, can’t you?

All in the name of research too!

PS:  If your budget doesn’t stretch to St Lucia just yet, you can get a taste of the restaurant in Borough Market in London – I went for a special birthday and every course is chocolate-inspired.  It was truly amazing.

Choc moose trio for pud!

Chocolate therapy

I welcome groups of people to my chocolate tanks.  There are two tanks, each of which holds up to eight kilos of molten chocolate that has been tempered prior to their arrival and is ready for chocolate-making.

Chocolate aroma

The first thing people remark on is the smell.  The whole space is filled with the aroma of chocolate!  We do some fun activities at the outset, and people are giggling and letting their guards down, then finally we start to dip fillings into the chocolate tank. 

Chocolate trance

It’s quite amazing the effect this has on everyone.  As they dip, they reach a level of calm.  The sensation of dipping, smelling and making chocolates seems to seep into each of them and they relax completely.  They open up and share stories – the dipping process has a totally therapeutic effect on them. 

You can’t hide

Each participant places the chocolates they have made onto their mat and this shows their personality – without fail.  They might start with neat lines and order, but eventually they will reveal their true identity by the way they place and decorate their creations.  It’s quite something to witness!

I often refer to this element of the workshop as ‘chocolate therapy’! It amazes me every time and is a total privilege to offer.   It’s so rewarding to see the positive and rather magical effects chocolate has on people.

Sometimes life can be very harsh – for instance, I’ve worked with children who are unable to be in mainstream education and their short lives have already been difficult and complicated, but still the magic of chocolate will weave its spell and create a small moment of peace, calm and creativity for them. 

The healing powers of chocolate

A daughter bought her mother to me.  They had lost their husband/dad almost a year ago and the mother had hardly been out of bed.  Her daughter booked the workshop just to try and help her mum as the first anniversary approached.

We had a magical morning, working with others enjoying ourselves, being creative, supportive and having a bit of fun.  They were almost in tears as they left saying how good the experience had been for them.  What an honour to have helped in some small way in such circumstances.

Squeak, squeak

Often the excitement is palpable. 

A lady treated her best friend to a workshop for a significant birthday and didn’t reveal the surprise until they arrived.  I’ve never heard so many squeals, her total delight was present throughout her whole experience and it was completely infectious. 

Imagine making someone so happy and excited – it’s a wonderful feeling.

So working with chocolate goes far deeper than you could imagine and continues to be a total wonder to me – the way it can help, encourage, support and excite others is just incredible!

Just say chocolate and watch what happens next……

Mention chocolate and make a splash.....

In the ten plus years I’ve been running workshops, I’ve had only a handful of people say they didn’t like chocolate.  (Why were they there then?  Probably because it was a team event and they were told they had to come along!)

When people ask me what I do and I tell them, I watch their reaction and it is quite predictable!   They get all animated and excited and start telling me what chocoholics they are.  They’re sold, just by me telling them what I do, without even having to ask them to consider buying!

It happens all the time, with so many people that I meet. 

Anywhere and Everywhere

I was attending a conference which was being held at Wembley Stadium.  We all had a bag search before we went in.  I had a few chocolate goodies in my bag to hand out at the conference.  Of course, this led to a chat with the security guard, whose daughter is mad about chocolate, handing over my card and a potential party booking!

At the bank, at the make-up counter, at the hairdressers, at the supermarket, buying a car, the dry-cleaners, shops, schools, travelling.  Everywhere – these are all genuine places I’ve discussed chocolate and people have asked me for my details!

Spreading the Love

Then there’s word of mouth.  As long as you are committed to providing the best possible experience for people, and of course it involves the magic ingredient chocolate, then watch how their love of what you do is spread around! 

It’s all about the experience

But making the best experiences is a whole other blog post my friends (perhaps even a book me thinks) as if I were ever sit back and think there’s the chocolate, I’m done here, then it’s times to give myself a good talking to……

Any time for chocolate?

Some time ago, there was a fantastic documentary (or ‘chocumentary’ as I like to call them) on the BBC called ‘Chocolate Perfection’ presented by Michel Roux Jr – where he travelled all over France talking to amazing chocolatiers – some who were carrying on the family tradition, and some who had come to chocolate because they ‘fell’ into it by chance. All of them displayed a total passion and dedication to the craft of working with chocolate and creating beautiful mouth-watering treats as well as fancy shoes and totally mind-blowing sculptures  – see below for link!

A world of flavours to explore

At the end Michel Roux Jr got to visit ‘Or Noir’ lab in Paris to create his own chocolate to use in his restaurant, La Gavroche.  He spent time with the scientists there understanding the flavour profiles of different beans from different regions to get the perfect blend for his own signature chocolate.

Chocolate as art

You have to take a look at these amazing chocolate sculptures from Patrick Roger; he was featured in the programme.  I can vouch for his wonderful chocolate too, as I made the family visit his boutique when we were last in Paris (not really a hardship eh!)

You can check out his latest creations on his Instagram account here

The skill, artistry and sheer brilliance of these creations is totally mind blowing! 

I told you the chocolate world was just amazing didn’t I!

Chocolate is the answer

We have top scientists today still discovering more secrets behind chocolate’s magic properties!

It contains tryptophan, a chemical in the brain that is used to produce the neurotransmitter, serotonin.  High levels of serotonin stimulate the secretion of endorphins and produce feelings of elation.  (Serotonin is found in the anti-depressant Prozac, and the designer drug ‘ecstasy’.)

Chocolate also contains a chemical called phenylethylamine – high levels of this neurotransmitter help promote feelings of attraction, excitement and giddiness!

So chocolate (especially the good stuff) actually will make you, and the world, a happier and seemingly more attractive place to be!

Shocking Chocolate Fact

Here’s something rather difficult for the ladies to hear; during the rule of the Aztecs, women were not allowed chocolate, it was for men only and a sign of their prowess (and believed to contain aphrodisiac properties)! 

We’ve obviously addressed this terrible injustice in our modern-day consumption levels ladies, thank goodness!

There’s so much more to taste….

There are very exciting developments in the world of chocolate – producers who are supporting farmers to cultivate rare and flavoursome beans, producing exquisite chocolate that tastes like nothing you’ve ever experienced before.

Supermarkets are selling good quality own brands of chocolate, making it accessible and affordable for all.  The quality chocolate shops are more visible on high streets, and we as consumers are being exposed to more gourmet options (as well as all our old favourites too).

The Latin name for cocoa is ‘theobroma cacao’ which literally means ‘food of the gods’ – it’s truly a magical substance and together let’s uncover more delights!

Welcome to my blog……”from chocolate with love”

Chocolate got me started……and I’ve definitely learned how to love, myself better mostly, and now I try and use chocolate to spread the love around, whether that be at a workshop, helping you to boost your confidence or having a go at the running a business thing yourself.

Sometimes it’s working out want you don’t want…..

We all love the chocolate, but for me it was a love of the good brown stuff AND people that shaped the way The Melting Pot came into being.

I never wished to stand around the chocolate tanks making stuff to sell, stuck on my own and without the company of others. 

And realising what you do…….

I love hosting; a drinks, a dinner party a cuppa and a catch up, I’m there, so it seemed a natural thing to want to start using chocolate workshop-style and inviting others to come along and make some treats under my instructions.

That was over 10 years ago and now it feels the right time to start from chocolate with love.

Delightful tales from the chocolate tanks, food, drinks, experiences, the people, the past, the present and the future – if I love it, am intrigued or excited by it, it’s going to be featured here. 

Dawn xxx