Ask most marketers and they’ll tell you it’s critical their business deliver an outstanding customer experience. But I wonder how many brands really drill down to this level: When does the customer experience end?
My family and I spent part of last spring break at a ski resort on Minnesota’s North Shore. The weather was pleasant. The skiing, fine. The condo we called home for three days was certainly serviceable. Friday night, our last, my teenager and a friend shared laughs and memories while coloring Easter eggs. All in all, a memorable experience.
Lovingly Made, Left Behind
Next morning, we hustled to pack for the nearly five-hour drive home. Twenty-five minutes in, my daughter gasped, glanced over her shoulder, then pivoted back and asked a panicky rhetorical: “Who brought the eggs?”
The delicate dozen — placed carefully back in the carton for safe transport home — had been left on the condo’s kitchen counter.
With one brief, wordless glance, the parents shifted into recovery mode. I looked for a place to U-turn. My wife dialed the resort, where the front-desk operator said she’d attempt to get a message to housekeeping.
Within 60 minutes, we were back. The housekeeper’s SUV was parked in front of our unit. Hopeful, my wife stepped inside, where she was greeted by two cleaners, but no eggs. The guy who collects the garbage had come … and apparently tossed the eggs.
So we spent the next few hours driving, recalling, wondering. The pink, blue and yellow baby’s blanket, nowhere to be found just 10 minutes after we left a four-star hotel in Boston. My brown belt, disappeared within minutes after I left that hotel in Washington, D.C. And now, a dozen colored eggs. Stored neatly in their carton. A day before Easter. Left alone less than an hour.
Owning the Experience
Really? Even if you’re the garbage guy? You don’t pause or think twice? Maybe run the carton over to the front desk, 100 yards away, on your way to the dump? Just in case the customer calls or returns?
Your business is to host people who are away from home. There’s a good chance young guests will be arriving with favorite old treasures, or going home with new ones. It’s more than likely adults will lose track of items. Things will get left behind.
But there’s also a good chance the customer will miss the item and call you on it. After all, since kindergarten there’s been a lost-and-found. Hasn’t there?
This is not a rant on the hospitality industry so much as a thought for businesses of all kinds:
If customer experience is key to your brand, then it pays to chart that experience on a timeline. Where and when does it start? Where and when does it end? Does it end? And who plays along the way?
It’s a huge challenge, but worth tackling. Getting everyone bought in to ensure the customer experience continuum, unlike last year’s Easter eggs, goes untrashed.