Do You Have a Weak Link in Your Customer Experience?

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I recently visited a new client in Riverside, California. I had never been to this part of the Inland Empire before, and was delighted to book The Mission Inn Hotel and Spa for my stay. It’s the largest Mission Revival Style building in the U.S. It’s a converted mission from the 1800’s and reminds you of the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. The building and the hotel grounds are an oasis in what is a nondescript and commercial part of town.

I chose this hotel for three reasons: my client suggested it, I wanted a quiet room away from busy roads, and I was enamored by this sentence:

Framed by its breathtaking Spanish-Mission-style architecture, The Mission Inn Hotel and Spa welcomes you to a destination where rich history and classic elegance exist in perfect balance with contemporary luxury and comfort.”

Here are five observations from my stay that serve as a reminder that your customers are watching you and your employees. As you read my list of observations, think about what your customers observe of you, your team and your organization.

1. The hotel has significant parking constraints. Waits of ten minutes are common to drop your car off for overnight parking. Parking was my first impression of the hotel. When it was my turn to hand my keys to the parking personnel, I observed them to be harried, they didn’t acknowledge my wait, and they had an attitude of “That’s the way it is.”

2. The front desk personnel are helpful and cheerful. They did a very good job of making me feel welcome and encouraged a positive customer experience.

3. With the exception of specific guest interactions, employees walk past you and don’t make eye contact. One employee walked past me one morning and said good morning without making eye contact. It was delivered in a perfunctory manner.

4. The manager of the restaurant where I had breakfast noticed me walk past, did not acknowledge me or extend a good morning. He remained engaged in a personal conversation with the hostess.

5. At dinner the employee who brought my water and bread placed both on the table without acknowledging me. When I thanked him, he didn’t respond. He was going through the motions. The waiter remained absent for an additional ten minutes and he too did not acknowledge the wait.

When customers look beyond the facade of your operations, what do they see and experience? Are your employees extending warmth, concern and appreciation for your customers? At this hotel, the Front Desk manager is creating an experience aligned with classic elegance, contemporary luxury and comfort mentioned on the website. The Food and Beverage Manger and Housekeeping Managers are not.

Hugh’s Monday Morning Mindset Challenge:

Here are three steps you can take to address the above:

1. Clearly articulate the experience you want to create for your customers. Make it specific for every department and every employee. For example, “we want every guest to feel as though they are being welcomed into a good friend’s home.” Also, clearly articulate what each employee’s role is in creating the customer experience.

2. Be a role model. If leaders and managers are not living the customer experience, then it is dead in the water. For example, if customers are supposed to feel like welcomed guests, does a leader make their employees feel welcome? Do you greet your employees with a warm welcome each morning?

3. Confirm the receipt of customer feedback. The best strategy post asking for feedback is acknowledging the receipt of feedback. I completed a survey for American Express and received a phone call to ask additional questions. It blew my mind and confirmed that American Express cares deeply about their card members.

Which of these three strategies will you take today?

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