Getting the Most from Your Customer Experience Program

Voice of the Customer

Getting the Most from Your Customer Experience Program

By Special Guest
Lisa Stockberger
  |  May 23, 2016

Organizations are spending a lot focusing on the customer experience. To receive maximum benefit from money spent in terms of customer engagement and profitability, organizations must have:

  • customer-centric processes;
  • key data for employees to use at the point of customer contact;
  • empowered employees; and
  • effective customer listening posts.

Here’s how a major hotel got some things right and needs improvement in other areas. 

I was in Boston for a board meeting in February. I booked a one-night stay through Hotwire (News - Alert), a travel app that provides great pricing. You pick a location and the star rating you want. You don’t know the name of the hotel until you pay. I got a great deal on a super hotel. I was very happy!

The night before the meeting, I went to a seafood restaurant and ordered mussels. The mussels were yummy, and I was a happy camper until about eight hours later when it became very clear that one of the mussels was bad. Needless to say I missed the board meeting. 

How did the hotel do? In most respects, the hotel was good to great, but not perfect for me, or the hotel’s bottom line.

  • Customer-centric processes:
    • When I called the front desk, explained the situation and asked how late I could checkout, I was told 4 p.m. – the latest check-out I’ve ever been given at a hotel with no associated charge. 
      • Customer experience: ?????
  • Key data for employees to use at the point of customer contact:
    • When it became clear I was going to stay another night, I called the front desk, explained the situation and asked for the best rate for an additional night. The rate quoted was $245. I went back to Hotwire, took a small risk that I wouldn’t get the same hotel, and booked the room for under $100. A couple of thoughts here: The hotel’s booking system showed that I had pre-paid – hotel speak for booked on some internet site, probably for a lot less than the brand site. With occupancy pretty low, the hotel would have been better off giving me a price of around $150 for the extra night. I would have happily taken it, and they would have added more to their bottom line.
      • Customer experience: ??
  • Empowered employees:
    • Decided I needed to re-hydrate and was not in the mood for much to eat. I went to the front desk to ask where I could buy Gatorade and a box of saltines. The desk agent insisted that I go back to my room, she would take care of everything.  Ten minutes later there was a knock at the door and a box of saltines and two bottles of Gatorade were delivered along with a handwritten note from the desk agent.
      • Customer experience: ????? (The Gatorade and saltines never hit my bill – can I do six stars?)

  • Effective customer listening posts:
    • I was very happy with how I was treated by the hotel staff.  In addition to writing a positive review on TripAdvisor, I decided to provide direct feedback. I wrote a positive review on the hotel’s Facebook (News - Alert) page. It was not posted. I wrote a letter to the hotel’s general manager about my great experience with his staff and his management style that enabled the experience, copying the president of the hotel group and the hotel group’s chief experience officer. I got no response. It’s good to get a you’re welcome after thanking an organization.
      • Customer experience: ??

The bottom line is the hotel took good care of me. It had a policy that let me get a very late checkout given the circumstances, and they empowered employees to go above and beyond in terms of customer care. Yet, it missed the boat in having data available that would have added money to its coffers, and neglected to close the loop with me.

Lisa Stockberger is a vice president and practice leader at Vanguard Communications Corp. (, a consulting firm specializing in customer experience, self service, contact center processes, change management, operations and technology.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi
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