New Lessons in Customer Experience Management
By Laurence Bernstein Managing Partner, Protean Strategies | April 14, 2013
The Importance of Customer Experience Management
There is wide spread acceptance of the fact that the hospitality business is all about experiences. That is to say, it is not about rooms (which are features), it's not about "sleeping well" (which is an attribute), it's not about "waking refreshed to get the most out of the day" (which is a benefit). Rather, the business is about the way the stay (or, the rooms, the sleep, the great day) makes me, the guest, feel. And as such, customer experience management is a critical component of hospitality management.
But, managing experiences is not easy – in fact, in some respects it's probably not possible. While we can manage the features, the attributes and we can anticipate the benefits, we cannot really "manage" the way you feel about them. Furthermore, the way you feel about anything, or the way anything makes you feel, changes constantly based on what else is going on in your world at that moment, or what went on in your world a few minutes ago, or what you anticipate will go on in your world in the next ten minutes.
Yes, it's hard, but it's not impossible. In fact, while customer experience management (CEM) has lately developed into a management focus (or, in some cases, management fetish), it is definitely not new.
Great hotels have always understood that the guest experience is everything. This is why they are great hotels. And we can learn a lot from their traditional approach, which had always been based on understanding the people who are your guests and empathizing with them.
In understanding that the guest experience is everything, these hoteliers looked at the totality of the experiences. They did not, as many brands are doing today, look at experiences in isolation and "manage" each of them independently. In effect, these great hotels knew that they could not separate the components of what they did from the totality of what their guests experienced. They knew, viscerally, that their business  could not be divorced from the way the guests experienced it. In modern parlance, they understood that their business is the way they are experienced – in other words, their business is their brand, which is the experience.