Shirley Williams, the founder at Timewiseit, started a great little discussion last week over on LinkedIn. She asked the simple question of “with one word, describe a positive customer experience.” The answers contributed by the Consumer Insights forum I belong were a mosaic of adjectives that, together, would describe the perfect customer experience we all would die to encounter: accommodating, insightful, proactive, impactful, rewarding, satisfying, WOW, delight!, pure joy, brilliance, pleased, recommended, luring, memorable, valuable, etc.
What an inspiring list! Just reading the words other forum members contributed gave me pause. When was the last time I experienced even anything remotely similar to such a customer experience? It wasn’t my recent school shopping trip blogged about earlier. It wasn’t my attempt at a boutique splurge last week, where after the second time of having to completely dress to get a smaller size (yes!) because the sales clerk was too busy chatting with her colleagues, I left the store without any purchases. Hmm, when was it?
Amazingly, it was the staff two weeks ago at the hotel I periodically stay on business. I would single out one individual employee, but I cannot. They appear to work as a team and, collectively, support each other in completing their “total customer satisfaction” duties. Yes, they know me upon sight and one front desk clerk always takes pride in remembering my name and going out of her way to check me in. It is a subtle “welcome home” feeling I have grown to count on. She has learned that I like the odd-numbered rooms that are on the backside of the hotel, where traffic noise is a minimum and prefer to be away from the elevators and ice machines. Even though their computer system doesn’t allow her to keep such detailed notes about guests, she remembers and always has a perfect room set aside for me.
When I travel on business, I don’t like to dine out unless I am with clients, preferring to use my evenings to get work done so my time at home can be maximized for my family. That means I eat often in the hotel restaurant where dining options are limited and unchanging. Enter the other half of the team who always have my favorite beverage ready to pour and a suggestion for dinner at the ready. They know I prefer to eat light, so they will attempt to “sell me” on the daily special, only if they know it falls in the range of something I will consider. Otherwise I’ll get the “we’d tell you about tonight’s Blah Blah Blah, but we know you don’t eat…” That kind of memorable, friendly attention is what keeps me coming back time and time again.
But when the dining team goes to tell the front desk team things they need to do to heighten my stay — without my knowledge — or vice versa, that’s the kind of teamwork and service that goes the extra mile. I mentioned the other night I was going to pull a late night to the waitress serving me dinner and she quietly had the front desk send housekeeping to the room with extra coffee (regular!) packets, as they know I am a massive coffee drinker. Who, but a service-oriented team, would know that coffee, and not that decaf nonsense, would be a welcome treat as I worked budgets into the wee hours?
Yes, sometimes customer service can be heightened by the familiarity of frequent, repeat business. The bonds that are created when you learn someone’s preferences and habits make it so much easier to deliver the kind of wow, memorable service that delight customers and keep them coming back. Kindness, attention to detail and treating others like you want to be treated when you are a guest in their world are all important traits in the world of the service business.
For a girl who likes to live the outrageously wonderful life, my word is magical. Last week, Marriott nailed it!