Great Customer Experience in Action - dummies

Great Customer Experience in Action

By Roy Barnes, Bob Kelleher

Are you still trying to get a handle on what great customer experience looks like? Perhaps an example would help.

Years ago, a young woman named Stephanie was hired to work the front desk at a Marriott hotel in Denver. Bubbly, energetic, and born with a desire to serve, Stephanie lived and breathed the customer experience intent.

One night, very late, the lobby’s front doors slid open and a woman trudged in. Her shoulders were slumped, and all the energy was drained from her body. Tears were flowing from her eyes.

In an instant, Stephanie was out from behind the desk. She strode across the lobby and intercepted the woman. She steered her to a sofa and sat her down. “What’s wrong?” she asked gently.

The woman’s story spilled out. For weeks, the woman — whose name was Amy — had been sitting vigil at her mother’s bedside. Her mother had been terminally ill with an aggressive, inoperable brain tumor. But there was a business meeting in Denver that Amy, who lived in Chicago, needed to attend. She spoke to her mother’s doctors, who assured her that all would be well in her absence. So Amy decided to take the last flight out of Chicago that night to Denver, attend a brief meeting the next morning, and fly right back home. Unfortunately, the doctors were wrong. Amy’s mother passed away while Amy was enroute.

“Wait here,” Stephanie told Amy. She went back to the front desk, checked Amy in, and grabbed her room key. Then she personally walked Amy up to her room. She turned on the lights, set the radio to a soft, classical station, and got Amy settled. She offered to bring Amy some fresh coffee and a bite to eat. She also offered to make arrangements for Amy to fly back to Chicago on the first plane out.

But that wasn’t all. After leaving Amy’s room, Stephanie called hotel security and asked them to unlock the gift shop so she could purchase some flowers and a sympathy card for Amy. She then passed the card around to all the staff who were still working that night so they could sign it.

Half an hour after leaving Amy’s room, Stephanie was back. She brought with her a pot of fresh coffee, a slice of warm apple pie, flowers, and a card signed by 18 staff members. She informed Amy that she was booked on an early-morning flight to Chicago, and that she, Stephanie, would meet Amy in the lobby at 5:45 a.m. (which was not her scheduled shift) to escort her to the airport.

No doubt, Stephanie was a naturally gifted service employee. But she was also armed with an explicit understanding of that hotel’s customer experience intent. As a result, she made a real difference in Amy’s life.