Great customer experience don’t let fear get in the way

Bert and Ernie: Let me tell you a secret / 20090917.10D.53994.P1 / SML

I don’t do gripe posts very often but this one could be seen as a bit ‘gripey’ so I will apologise in advance. However, do read on as I think you might like the idea that I’m trying to get across.

Recently, I’ve been doing some traveling in the UK and abroad and when traveling I have been staying hotels. Most of my travel has been on business and, so, has take place during the week.

Given that, I thought I’d share a few reflections of my customer experience across the different hotel chains that I stayed at. (Note: not all hotels will do the things that I am about to talk about but many do.)

Here’s what struck me during my various stays:

  • Customer service when checking in, checking out and breakfast was good.
  • We have to pay for everything extra in the room whether it is internet/wifi access, movies to watch, the mini-bar etc. All of which requires a degree of form filling.

Now, that may not sound much but what I want when I am away from home for work is for my hotel to feel as much as it can like a ‘Home away from home’.

That means that…..

……I don’t want to have to grapple with internet connectivity I just want it to be there

……I don’t want to have to fill in a form if I want to grab a juice or a beer when I get back to my room on an evening

……I don’t want to have to go through a payment and approval procees when I want to watch a film I just want it to start

So, this got me to thinking. How about if hotels offered a ‘home away from home’ option, where when you are booking you are offered an option to pay an extra, let’s say, 10% or so on the normal room rate, which allows you to help yourself to the mini bar, gives you Internet access for free and access to all TV channels and/or one movie on demand per night.

How would that sound?

Many hotels already have a loyalty scheme in place but this, I believe, is something different.

Talking to a few people in and around the hotel industry, they tell me that the thing that stops many hotels putting this type of customer experience in place (it’s not hard to do as the facilities are already in place and paid for) is fear. Fear that people would abuse the internet bandwidth, that they would abuse the mini-bar, that they would lose incremental revenue and it’s not how they do things etc etc.

But, fear doesn’t help us do things differently, make ourselves stand out and create great customer experiences that get talked about. Fear holds us back.

I would bet that many people would pay for the option but wouldn’t abuse it making it a highly profitable add-on. But, that’s just a focus group of one: me.

Also, personally, I would sign up for an option like that in a heartbeat, I’d make sure that I’d tell everyone I knew about it and I’d look out for those hotels that offer it every time I travelled.

The biggest thing I learnt out of these experiences is that if you want to improve your customer experience, keep your customers coming back and have them talk about your business with their friends then we have to think like our customers and give them what they want.

Note: I write these posts because I am passionate about great service and helping companies get more value and growth out of the customer relationships they already have. If you’d like to find out more about how I do that then get in touch here. Alternatively, sign up for my monthly newsletter here.

Thanks to See-ming Lee 李思明 SML for the image.

18 comments On Great customer experience don’t let fear get in the way

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  • Adrian, like you I travel a lot.

    My biggest bug bear is internet connectivity. It is just greedy for hotels to demand £15 for a night’s connection.

    As for fear, if you haven’t seen it it is well worth watching this youtube interview with Chris Zane http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zE-g-6EPzNo

    James

    • Hi James,
      Greedy indeed!

      I haven’t seen that video but the thing that stands out for me is the long-term, entrepreneurial view that Chris Zane takes about his business. I think we lose that as organisations get bigger, job tenures get shorter and employees take less responsibility for the long-term health of the business.

      Adrian

  • Hi Adrian,
    Perhaps as more customers demand this kind of option, hotels will be more willing to provide these services and might even find ways to prevent abuse of them.

    I think if a hotel finds it profitable, the rest will soon follow.

  • Hello Adrian and James

    How interesting that three of us travel and have experienced the same experiences. Hotels management showed up as divorced from my expectations/needs and greedy. Yet some hotel employees showed up as caring, as great, as good human beings.

    Adrian the point that you raise is a great one. If we treat people as dishonest then we encourage dishonesty. A way of thinking about human beings gives life to a way of being in the world. It occurs to me that despite the fine words, the ingrained way of being in Anglo-Saxon countries is to have a dismal view of human nature: people are lazy, they are selfish, they are dishonest. Is it a surprise then that he few brands that practice a positive view of human beings generate talk and advocacy?

    Maz

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