In this series of “The Decision Maker; A Woman’s Perspective on Customer Experience”, I will outline my experiences as a customer (a female customer) as I experience them!
This first post takes place in Miami at an upscale hotel; when NO was the only option.
I landed in Miami for a series of business meetings over a three-day period. I had specifically chosen to stay a Conrad Property as I had such a great experience at their locations around the world. My expectations were high, and I was very excited to be staying there.
Consistency is one of the most critical aspects of providing an exceptional experience for customers. Consistency is essential in building relationships and earning the trust that comes with customer growth. Unfortunately, consistency didn’t reveal itself on my stay, and the confidence I once had with The Conrad has been broken.
I arrived at 12 pm; before check-in time, which was 3 pm. I understand that if a hotel is busy that a guest can’t always be accommodated and placed into a room before the guaranteed check-in time. So, I asked when the earliest they thought I could get into a room as I needed to shower and change before a business meeting I had at 4 pm and needed to leave the hotel at 3 pm to get to the meeting on time. They said there was nothing they could do and would let me know.
I don’t know about you, as a female in business (or anyone in business for that matter) having the ability to shower before a meeting is essential, especially if you fly in that day. Again, I understand the logistics of having guests check out, having the room clean, and then giving the rooms to the next fleet of guests. What I didn’t understand is why the team members at other Conrad properties are empowered to make it right for the customer and the lack of consistency in this empowerment throughout their other properties? How are they not consistently empowered to do what it takes to accommodate a guest; like ensuring they can use a shower before a meeting.
‘No’ Was The Only Option
After the first ‘no there’s nothing we can do for you’ response I walked away to grab some lunch. I was hopeful that my room would open up before 3 pm. Unfortunately, lunch had come and gone, and I still didn’t hear any news about the status of my room. I went back to the front desk and asked again what the status of my room was. They let me know that the room was still not ready and there was nothing they could do. I then asked if they had a room or shower available that I could use. No was the answer. I then asked if I could use the spa’s shower; again, no was the answer. They did at this point offer the gym (which was located in another building and had no place to put my luggage). I would have to walk across to the other building with my luggage to use the shower when the spa was on the same level and the reception. I asked again, “are you sure I can’t use that shower? I need to get ready, and I don’t want to lug my luggage”. Guess that the answer was? NO.
The Female Impact
At that point, I started to get very frustrated. As a customer, this type of experience is the type of experience that makes you wish you could find another place to stay.
As a Customer Experience expert, I know that the team is following the ‘policy’, so it’s hard for me to get upset at them. I also know there is a heck of a lot more wiggle room to make it right! As I have mentioned, I had stayed at other Conrad properties before and chose this one because of the previous experiences. As a woman, there was no compassion, concern or effort to help me from the team and that is enough for The Decision Maker to choose a different hotel for future business or personal trips. Did you know that the woman influences over 85% of all purchases made in the home? That includes the decisions on travel for her and her family! We are always scoping out great places to bring our family, even when we are on business trips. Creating an experience that makes her happy has a significant effect on earning the right to customer growth, loyalty and maintain the lifetime value of your customers.
I am here to inspire positive actionable change in the experiences the most influential consumer in the world has, and this is why I have decided to write these blog posts with a female perspective. I want to help organizations become better at the experience they provide their female customers (and customer’s in general).
With that, here are three ways organizations can change the experience for the better; to satisfy the Decision Maker and consumers alike:
Remove Rule (the word no) and Replace with Guidelines
Empower your team members to WOW the customer. In a large organization with multiple locations, this can be hard to control which is why a lot of organizations put rules into place. These rules, unfortunately, hurt the experience more often than not and these rules are often put into place because one or two customers abused the organization’s generosity.
By the year 2020 (which is pretty much today!) research shows that experience will beat out price and quality. If you want to keep your customers satisfied the only rule you should have in place is to do what’s right for the customer. This brings me to the next suggestion I have; make exceptions based on each scenario presented.
It is imperative you listen to your guest’s story; remember rules are meant to be broken! Train your team to live in the grey so they can ensure they deliver on an exceptional guest experience! For example, in my case, the team member could’ve given me access to the spa shower instead of making me walk across to the other building (with my suitcase) to use the shower in the gym. The spa was on the same level as the lobby and in the same building as the rest of the rooms. You need to Empower team members to handle service failure and make the exceptions to the ‘rules’ to make it right for the customer standing in front of them.
Train for Consistency
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post consistency is the key to an exceptional experience for customers. Consistency is vital in building relationships and earning the trust that comes with customer growth. Consistency is what separates the Disney, Starbucks and Ritz Carleton’s of the world from the rest.
When I work with clients, I like to introduce a tool called ‘decision trees’. This simple tool helps to address the above two points and creates consistency in the experience you provide. By creating decision trees, you can empower your team members to make it right and give them all the options they need to WOW the customer. On top of it, they will feel like hero’s and your customers are happy to have done business with you.
What Does A Customer Remember?
I must have heard the word ‘NO’ at least a dozen times in the few short hours as I tried to check in and get showered for a meeting. A customer will remember two touchpoints above all else; the first impression and the last impression. My first impression was less then Steller, and unfortunately, they didn’t make up for it during my stay or at the end of my visit.
Here’s another tip about the female consumer (who remembers EVERYTHING!); they are the original social media; they will tell their stories to anyone who will listen. I must have told this story more than 20x before I left Miami and now I am sharing it with the social world.
It takes 12 positive interactions to make up for one. The Conrad broke my trust this visit, and I will be hesitant to stay there again.
Join me as I share my experiences as a customer (with a female perspective) as I experience them!