What is the driving force (as in motivation) for much of that which occurs under the Customer Experience label in many a corporate enterprise?
My experience suggests it is some combination of fear and greed: fear of losing out and greed for higher revenues, higher profit margins, and higher profits. There is only so much that can be achieved when the underlying motivation/driver is to take from one’s customers.
I was fortunate to come across an exception this week.
This week, all the hotels I typically stay at were booked so I found myself in a hotel that showed up for me as a family run guest house: the Leitner’s Hotel Garni (“LHG”) in Kaufbeuren, Germany. I can tell you that I will happily return to this hotel the next time I need a place to stay in that part of Germany. Why?
Allow me to deconstruct my experience:
1- LHG was easy to find – even in the dark/rain when visibility was poor – and there was ample parking at or right next to LHG;
2- My colleague and I were greeted warmly by the person at the reception desk, and as soon as I introduced myself this person knew who I was, and how many nights I was staying;
3 – The person at the desk knew that I would need the invoice to be in the name of my employer and so asked me for my business card so that he could make sure that the invoice was correctly made out when it came to check out time;
4 – This person, when he noticed that I was struggling to understand German, switched from German to English – this was and continues to be highly appreciated by me;
5- The room allocated to me was easy/quick to get to, it was spacious, it was clean, it was warm – I could regulate the heating, and it had the essentials;
6 – The bed and the pillows were comfortable and the lack of noise allowed me to get to sleep easily, and no interruption to wake me up;
7 – Every morning/evening the person on reception (whether man, or woman) greeted me warmly and received my greeting – a most welcome human interaction;
8 – Breakfast had a homely feel to it (place/layout/decor/size) and in addition to the buffet there was personal service – someone who walked over warmly and asked if I wanted coffee or tea;
9 – The process of checking out was a real pleasure as in I received a warm welcome, the invoice was ready/correct, paying was quick/easy; and
10 – To my surprise/delight I was given a gift – the gift of homemade jam – as a small thank you.
Looking on my experience I find the following lessons:
1-The product matters! The product has to be fit for purpose – the purpose that the customer has in mind.
2-Ease matters! Make it easy for customers – those who you chose to do business with – to do business with you: respect their time, and minimise the effort they have to put in – aiming for that which occurs as zero effort. Here there is big role for technology for many interactions/processes (like making a booking) can be automated.
3-People matter! The people who are on the front line interacting with customers matter. Their character/personality matters. Their knowledge matters. The humanity that they put into their interactions matters for there are some of us who value the human touch in the sea of technological coldness/indifference.
4-Personal not personalisation! There is such a huge different between person and personalisation. What folks like me want is the personal touch and we don’t give a fork about personalisation. Take a good look at the gift: it is personal but not personalised.
It occurs to me that I have missed out the most essential element: that Herr Norbert, the person with whom I had almost all of my interactions, showed up for me as a Giver. Not a Taker. As a Giver, his gift (of homemade jam) occurred as a gift, a human touch, rather than a marketing gimmick/trick/tactic.
I thank you for your listening and I wish you the very best. If this happens to be the last conversation between us before Christmas then I take this opportunity to wish you a great Christmas, and the very best for 2020.