The Importance of Creating Legendary Customer Experiences

By John Ely Senior Vice President of Marketing, Signature Worldwide | October 28, 2008

A new trend is shaping customer service, and it goes well beyond simply providing what guests expect. Today, customer service is being measured against a guest's experience in total - all of your guest's interactions with your company, your facilities, your products, your services and, most importantly, your people.

While customer experience has fast become the industry's new buzz phrase, most are still having a difficult time differentiating between good customer service and a legendary customer experience. The following story helps separate the two.

In my previous job, I was responsible for a project that involved bringing the company's 200 largest clients to the corporate office to get to know the senior management, tour our facilities and learn more about our new products. As part of the tour, I brought the guests in a day early and took them out for a nice dinner with our senior managers.

On the surface, the mere scheduling seemed daunting. Each of our clients would send multiple representatives, and I scheduled up to four clients on any particular tour. Also, I had as many as five or six colleagues joining us for dinner, which meant I was responsible for more than 50 corporate dinners that included anywhere from 12 to 20 people.

For my own sanity, I created a rotation of four restaurants. The first round of dinners went just as planned. All of the restaurants served fantastic food, had great atmospheres and offered quick and attentive service. For all practical reasons, I was completely satisfied. Then came my second trip to the first restaurant in the rotation, which made clear the difference (and value) in creating a legendary customer experience versus simply satisfying me.

Upon entering the host said, "Welcome back Mr. Ely, we're glad to see you again. The last time you were here, we noticed you had a large party, and it seemed to be business related." The host went on to say, "I saw on the reservation that you had a party of 15 tonight, so I reserved one of our small banquet rooms for you at no extra charge. I thought this would create a better atmosphere."

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Mobile Technology: The Future is Now

Mobile Technology continues to advance at a relentless pace and the hotel industry continues to adapt. Hotel guests have shown a strong preference for mobile self-service - from checking-in/out at a hotel kiosk, to ordering room service, making dinner reservations, booking spa treatments, and managing laundry/dry cleaning services. And they also enjoy the convenience of paying for these services with smart phone mobile payments. In addition, some hotels have adopted a “concierge in your pocket” concept. Through a proprietary hotel app, guests can access useful information such as local entertainment venues, tourist attractions, event calendars, and medical facilities and services. In-room entertainment continues to be a key factor, as guests insist on the capacity to plug in their own mobile devices to customize their entertainment choices. Mobile technology also allows for greater marketing opportunities. For example, many hotels have adopted the use of “push notifications” - sending promotions, discounts and special event messages to guests based on their property location, purchase history, profiles, etc. Near field communication (NFC) technology is also being utilized to support applications such as opening room doors, earning loyalty points, renting a bike, accessing a rental car, and more. Finally, some hotels have adopted more futuristic technology. Robots are in use that have the ability to move between floors to deliver room service requests for all kinds of items - food, beverages, towels, toothbrushes, chargers and snacks. And infrared scanners are being used by housekeeping staff that can detect body heat within a room, alerting staff that the room is occupied and they should come back at a later time. The January Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in this exciting mobile technology space.