Each week, the final page of The New Yorker magazine contains an ink drawing of a social situation, and beneath it you are invited to invent your own comic line to capture what is going on in the cartoon. Imagine the number of ways that the title line above could be completed, “A CIO, VP of marketing and a customer walk into a bar…..”. Like…. ‘but never into the same bar.’ Or… ‘and though they work for the same company, none of them recognize one another.’ From a CRM perspective, these quips are not that funny. Here is an example from real life: This week I am working in a country in the Middle East. I checked into the hotel – a global chain where I have a bit of ‘guest status,’ and I have stayed 18 times before at this location. And….
What happened at check-in at the hotel? To begin, I should add that my company holds a yearly high-tech conference here, and the hotel has cumulatively generated over a million dollars from the events. The next note is that I have been the conference co-chairperson for the last ten conferences. My company’s Travel group made my reservation. With that background, and the fact that my Credit Card has not changed, and I explicitly told the person working the reception desk the above information, would you be surprised that they there was not a single unique business rule to recognize any of this, or factor the information in to make any special offers. More than that, I was offered a standard room with no business lounge access. There was no question as to whether or not I would like to upgrade, even though I have ordered a room upgrade each of the past 18 stays. I had to ask them for the upgrade. The irony is that the upgrade comes with access to the lounge restaurants and free meals and beverages, a range of newspapers, and business facilities. The ‘upgrade’ makes the overall stay less expensive than if I either ordered room service or went to a restaurant. I explained this to the receptionist – she did not suggest that analysis on her own.
I will continue to return to the hotel, despite the kinks. At breakfast, the restaurant manager came over to ask me how everything was going. As I was telling him that it was all wonderful, I glanced down and saw a four inch strand of plastic embedded in my meal. I pointed it out and he removed it to show ‘the chef.’ Then he returned to say that ‘the chef says it’s ok.’ Ah. Yum. There were multiple other small wonders. In my ‘member profile’ I ask for a morning paper, but because I didn’t make the original reservation, one never came. When I supplied my member number, I still received no paper. Then I asked for one: and for one morning I received a newspaper, but never again. I asked if the outdoor pool was still open at this time of year. They told me no, yet in the morning there were swimmers enjoying laps. I called downstairs and the receptionist said: ‘yes, it is open, but it is too cold to swim!’ Thank you, grandma. Why bother complaining that they want $20 for each device that you want to put onto their network to receive internet and data?
The wonder of it all is that none of the events that I experienced are recorded anywhere. IT is not going to work with Marketing to better identify ‘high value’ customers. As a customer I will have no ‘view’ into whatever was done to address the multiple small process-snags that I experienced. There is no ‘voice of the customer’ program in place, and there is no ‘Chief of Customer Journey’ who will follow up with me.
Let’s not miss the big picture: I am not complaining about the hotel. I won’t ever mention their name, or the country they are in. I won’t Tweet this or place it on Facebook or not “Like” the property. But they don’t know that, because they are not listening. And before any of us say, “That would not happen with us!” – don’t be so sure. We all have process flaws that lead our customers to defect or complain. Perhaps the number one impediment to improving customer-facing processes is that no one ‘owns’ the customer experience. For those companies with such a role, good things happen. When there is no such role, it is hard to pin the blame anywhere, or drive improvement through a coherent, iterative approach and strategy.
Back to work…. I’ll stay away from the buffet.