Net Promoter Score (or NPS as it is also known) has been written and spoken about thousands of times over the last few years. Whilst some see it as the simplest (and cheapest) way to capture customer feedback, others dismiss it as far too simplistic with an inability to allow the organisation using it to understand what issues need to addressed.
Using the NPS scoring system as an analogy, I am neither a promoter nor a detractor of the methodology – although I would say the same thing for any customer feedback mechanism. As I will tell any business that asks me – every organisation is different – different customers; employees; business structure; issues; environment etc.. What each individual organisation needs to do to improve the customer experience will de dependent on its situation. This includes the adoption of a customer feedback programme.
NPS is a very effective tool to help a business understand customer loyalty – but it does not apply to every business. I have very successfully encouraged organisations to adopt it. These tend to be businesses looking to grow – the more likely one customer is to recommend the business to someone else, the greater the likelihood is that they will achieve the growth they are looking for.
NPS is obviously not the only customer feedback mechanism available. Customer Satisfaction is very commonly deployed, whilst ‘Customer Effort Score’ has become more prominent in the last couple of years. None is right, none is wrong – what is important is that an organisation deploys what is right for them. More often than not, I will recommend using two methods – one to galvanise support in the organisation, and one to provide a granular understanding of the priorities for improvement.
Sadly, NPS is often abused and misused – I would like to share with you a very current example. Yesterday, Mrs Golding unfortunately had to pay a visit to the Accident & Emergency department of our local hospital in Chester. Naomi’s injury was a long way from life threatening, but she was sent there by our General Practitioner. To cut a long story short, Naomi had a piece of ceramic tile stuck in her foot – a little like a splinter – and it needed to be removed as quickly as possible.
I dropped Naomi off at the hospital at 11:30am, and collected her at 15:45. We did not expect her visit to be swift!! In the hours Naomi was at the hospital, she observed and experienced a number of things – from the packed, not particularly clean waiting room, to friendly nurses and helpful doctors. By the time she hobbled out of the hospital, her objective had been met – her foot was sore, but the problem was solved.
Of all of the experiences we have today – especially in the UK – the one that we might least expect to be asked about is our experience at an NHS hospital. When Naomi looked at her phone later that day and saw a text message from an unknown number – she was intrigued. The unknown number turned out to be from the Countess of Chester Hospital – the image below is of the text message:
Instantly Naomi knew I would be interested in seeing it – she was right. My immediate thought was No No No!! Why on earth is an Accident and Emergency department of the only NHS hospital with an A&E department in Chester asking the NPS question??? What better example can be provided of an inappropriate use of the NPS methodology? Why on earth would anyone NOT recommend the A&E department in a city where there is only one??? Would anyone ask a paramedic to drive on to the hospital in the next city as they were told by a friend not to use the local one??
I think that the intent of the text message is correct – the method is completely wrong. I once attended a meeting where the now defunct NHS Direct shared with the group that their NPS score was close to 100% – this was yet another example of an organisation using the wrong method – NHS Direct was unique – you would never have NOT recommended it!!
I can tell you right now that the Countess of Chester Hospital will learn nothing from this survey – they will not have any idea that the waiting room was not clean, that certain members of staff were kind and polite, that the waiting times were satisfactory or not. The NPS score they receive will be extremely high. They may perceive as a result that the A&E department is doing a great job.
There is NO POINT capturing customer feedback unless that feedback enables your organisation to understand what the priorities for improvement are. If you want to get a great customer feedback score for the purposes of vanity, put your business in a monopoly situation and then ask the NPS question. The A&E department at the Countess of Chester Hospital would be much better served asking patients how satisfied they were with a small number of touchpoints during their visit – from waiting room, to triage assessment, to staff engagement etc.. If they carry on asking patients if they would recommend the unrecommendable, the result will be quite simple – a complete waste of money!
This week I am delighted to feature a new guest blogger. Matt Beaumont is one of the most connected men in the UK when it comes to all things customer experience. Having spent the last few years arranging world class customer experience events, he has had to make it his business to know who has done what and when in the constant attempt to do what is right for the customer. His post is a personal story that brings to life the power of social media – I am sure you will very much enjoy reading it….
Okay, now before I start this I want to make sure people know that I am a Football fan. For as long as I can remember I have been a fan of the mightyish Arsenal FC, a club I have supported ever since I saw the letters ARS on a TV screen, I honestly thought it was funny and decided that they were the club for me.
This would suggest to anyone who knows anything about football that I am not too keen when it comes to our arch rivals across the road Tottenham Hotspur, it is fair to say that both Arsenal and Tottenham fans have recognised each other as one of their biggest rivals and the derby is one of the fiercest in English football.
However, I must respect awesome when I see it and recently Tottenham have been guilty of some real good awesome involving my step brother.
My step brother is (as fate would have it), a mad Spurs fan, if there is something about that club he doesn’t know then for all intents and purposes it probably isn’t a fact worth caring about. He would do anything to be the clubs next star goalkeeper and although I would never tell him, is actually pretty good.
Long story short, but towards the end of the football season, he unfortunately injured himself in a training exercise saving a shot and did some really bad damage to his arm, it will be a while before he steps onto a pitch again, however he is making a really good recovery and has every reason to be optimistic about pulling off some top saves before too long.
This is where Tottenham Hotspur come in. Now in the interests of transparency I am connected to quite a few people in the corporate football world from research I have been carrying out for an event next year. However, it turns out that the Tottenham Hotspur social media team had picked up on tweets between family members about step brothers arm, cross checked these tweets against information that the club already had from various sources and were able to work out that my step brother and I were related.
Spooky, or really cool, you decide. However, this is where the club really win kudos, from knowing who we were and the fact that step brother has attended games at White Hart Lane, from a twitter conversation about an arm injury, they were able to obtain the fact that he was a fan and sent him the letter as seen below.
Now whether this letter was really the words of then Head Coach Tim Sherwood or not I do not know, and I am not sure I really care. For me, I love the fact that here is an organisation who through effectively using social media have learnt that one of their customers is injured (or upset), and have sent a wonderful letter thanking him for being a customer and wishing him a quick recovery.
They did not have to do this, they chose to do this based on a choice of whether to proactively communicate with their customers and not being afraid to take risks with social media.
What was the result? One delighted fan who is now even more loyal to the Tottenham brand, a fan for life some may say.
What did it cost Spurs? Not much, just a positive attitude to social media.
How simple was this to implement? Very.
Could you win customers for life too? Is it really that scary to talk to your customers?
Lots of food for thought there, but Tottenham, well done guys, nicely done!
Matt Beaumont (An Arsenal fan)
Matt is busy arranging some unique Customer Experience events later in 2014 and through to 2015. If you are interested in speaking at a Customer Experience event, or would like to know more, you can either follow Matt on Twitter (@mattb_cx) or email him at email@example.com.
The chap in the middle of this photograph – the man in yellow dressed as a member of McDonald’s crew – is in fact pretending. If you have not already guessed (and have never met me), I can confirm that the ‘fake’ member of the McDonald’s team is indeed yours truly! Last week I was offered the opportunity to spend a morning working as a crew member in the McDonald’s restaurant in Brent Cross, North London. I consider myself honoured to have been given this opportunity and am delighted to share with you my experience. I hope you enjoy reading about it as much as I enjoyed experiencing it.
Let me start by clarifying how I ended up being given the opportunity. A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about my Grandmother’s 100th birthday celebrations – if you have not read it, you can do so here. As a result of the post, McDonald’s UK got in touch with me. They were understandably delighted to read about the actions of members of their crew. I was put in touch with their UK Customer Service Director who kindly invited me in to the UK head office for a chat. I have always been fascinated by McDonald’s and excited to be able to talk both about Pauline’s experience and discuss what drives employees to do something so kind.
The McDonald’s UK head office is in a slightly nondescript office building in North London. The unassuming façade hides some very interesting things. As well as containing its own fully functioning restaurant, the building is home to a training centre for thousands of McDonald’s employees. Multiple lecture theatres were full of crew members and managers being taught the McDonald’s ‘tools of the trade’.
One of the things that I have always admired with McDonald’s is how they are able to deliver such a consistent experience across so many restaurants all over the country. It is a challenge for any brand to deliver a consistent experience and McDonald’s in my opinion have become the absolute benchmark. In general, the restaurants look, feel and smell the same. It does not matter where you are in the UK, you can enter a McDonald’s and have roughly the same experience.
The key driver of this consistency is McDonald’s focus on process – they are process obsessed!! As I experienced myself, there is a process for everything and every process is measured rigorously. Where possible, all processes have been mistake proofed, so it is actually quite difficult for crew members to get it wrong. These are relatively simple process management disciplines – yet they are disciplines that many businesses find difficult to apply.
We take for granted how McDonald’s 97,000 UK based employees deliver consistent the consistent experiences we have all come to expect. What I wanted to know is what really drives these people to not just serve up burgers on a daily basis, but also to serve memorable experiences.
This is what led McDonald’s to offer me the opportunity of spending a morning working in the restaurant that is ‘home’ to the four wonderful ladies who made my grandma feel so special. On the 11th June 2014, I travelled to Brent Cross Shopping Centre to immerse myself in their world for a few short hours. Arriving before the shopping centre had opened to the public, I was met by the UK Customer Service Director – he introduced me to a number of people including his Head of Customer Service and the Managing Director of the franchise that runs the Brent Cross restaurant.
About 70% of McDonald’s restaurants in the UK are franchised. Atul Pathak’s Appt Corporation runs 20 of them in London. An incredibly engaging man, it was clear the second I was introduced to him how very proud he is to be part of the McDonald’s family. Becoming a McDonald’s franchisee is not easy – thousands apply every year, but only a small number succeed. As Atul told me:
You have a better chance of winning the X-Factor than becoming a McDonald’s franchisee!
The average tenure of a crew member is 2.5 years – a very impressive statistic for the industry. Atul told me that once you start to work for McDonald’s, it gets in to your blood – metaphorically speaking of course!!
We have ketchup in our veins!!
A wonderful quote from Atul – a quote that sums up how passionate he is about the business that has become his life. It is not just Atul that feels this way. As we enjoyed a freshly brewed coffee, the Brent Cross restaurant manager, Uma, and one of Atul’s senior managers, Lingham both described with great feeling what working for McDonald’s means to them. Uma is a graduate who had intended to pursue a career in HR. She started to work in McDonald’s when she finished her degree – she enjoyed it so much, that it has enveloped her. Like most McDonald’s managers, she started as a crew member and has quickly worked her way through the ranks. Career progression is vital to the success of McDonald’s – Uma is testament to that.
What struck me talking to everyone I did that morning, was the strength of passion they felt towards the company. If you work for McDonald’s, there are great opportunities for progression. They will help you to get GCSEs. They will provide apprenticeships. Once again, there are not many companies around in 2014 that provide all their employees with such a clear path – should they want it.
As I donned my McDonald’s uniform, the Brent Cross team were welcoming me into their family. It felt like a very nice place to be. I spent a few hours doing what they do. I helped to construct a sausage and egg McMuffin. I saw first hand the rigorousness of the ‘production process’. The kitchen is like a finely tuned machine – I felt like a clumsy oaf working alongside the lightning fast crew members alongside me. My teacher was a shift manager called Abdellah. Like everyone else, it was clear how proud he is to work for McDonald’s. Whilst ensuring that I maintained their strict hygiene standards, he too spoke about the McDonald’s family and what it means to him. During my time in the kitchen, Abdellah helped me to make my first Big Mac – it is not that easy to do!
All of the crew members spoke with incredible warmth about my Grandma. They were very moved by the blog post I wrote. Speaking to Atul, Lingham and Uma about Pauline, you could see that McDonald’s to them is more than just a restaurant that serves burgers. They are incredibly passionate about the communities they serve – with customers at the heart of that community. They create emotional bonds with their customers, knowing that these are the strongest bonds you can have.
What they did with Pauline is not a one off – that is just what they do. I did not realise that for the last few years Pauline visited them, they stopped charging her for coffee. Pauline had become part of the family. Standing behind the counter alongside Steven, another shift manager, I observed how the whole team constantly helped, supported and guided customers in the restaurant. It is so natural to them that many customers would not even notice. As the Customer Service Director said to me – ‘it is like seeing CRM happening on a daily basis in the flesh!’
This commitment to people aligned with the focus on consistent process makes perfect commercial sense. That is why McDonald’s is thriving in the UK. They do not care if you just want to buy a coffee. They do not even worry if you only want to use the loo. The loo today a burger tomorrow – they want everyone to feel as though they can become part of their community.
I met two of the other ladies who surprised Pauline – Yvonne and Rubia. Like everyone else, you could see the passion in their eyes. Customer Service is in their hearts. McDonald’s are very luck to have them. They were yet further endorsement of the pride and passion that is making McDonald’s such a successful business. Having spent a morning with these lovely people, I am not surprised at all that they did what they did for Pauline. They will do it all over again today….and tomorrow….and the day after. It is just what they do.
So the next time you visit a McDonald’s, I urge you to do a couple of things. Look around you – take in the local community using the restaurant. Office workers, trades people, school children, mums, dads, grandpas, grandmas. Then have a look at the McDonald’s crew. They will be going about their business with ruthless efficiency – handing out balloons, helping customers to tables, advising customers on what to eat. You will be observing how McDonald’s do what they do. They do it because they are human. They do it very very well.
It never ceases to amaze me how often I hear stories describing senior leaders lack of desire to speak to, meet or have any direct interaction with customers. Despite the fact that they are leading large teams of customer facing people, an irrational fear of coming face to face with the paying customer is more common than you might think.
It is true to say that many modern business leaders are recruited for their expert strategic decision making and financial prowess – in fact a large proportion of senior executives are accountants! Yet to be able to make the best decisions about the strategic direction of your company, it is imperative that those making the decisions know exactly what it feels like to be a customer – or at least to have an understanding of what customers are saying.
Have you ever attempted to contact the CEO of a company in order to make a complaint? How often has the CEO you have written to actually responded personally? You could argue that most CEOs are far too busy to actually take the time to respond to all correspondence – but should you ever be too busy to communicate with a customer? One of my previous CEOs read every piece of correspondence addressed to him – although he did not often write responses himself, he would not let a single letter leave the building with his name at the bottom unless he personally approved it.
It is actually very easy to find the senior leader of a company these days. You can find the email address for the CEOs of all UK companies via ceoemail.com – it is a very useful resource. It is also pretty easy to locate senior leaders via LinkedIn – in 2014, it is very difficult to hide anywhere online!!
So what should a senior leader do if contacted directly by a customer? To answer this question, I am going to share an example of what not to do. It is sometimes best to look at a horror story, to demonstrate exactly why I think it is important to never be afraid of talking to customers. The story I am going to share is not mine – it has been passed on to be by a friend. In order to protect the identities of the individuals concerned, I have changed the names of both the sender and receiver – the content of the interaction is 100% genuine though.
What you are about to read is an email exchange between a customer and his energy provider. The customer is also a Director of a large business himself. In this first extract of the conversation, he has emailed the Customer Service Director of the energy company:
It does not take a genius to realise that this customer is really not very happy. He has taken the time to find out who the Customer Service Director is, and is making it quite clear that he expects something to happen. A little while later, having not had a response, the customer sends a follow-up email:
By now alarm bells should be ringing. To be clear, the customer in the actual email exchange does not disguise who he is or the fact that he is also a senior leader in an organisation. I do not know about you, but I would be considering picking up the phone to speak to this particular customer. That is not what happens! A day after his second email, the following arrived in his inbox:
The fictional Patricia Harley is a PA at the energy company. The customer did not get the response from the Customer Service Director he was hoping for – he got a response from a personal assistant instead. You do not need to know which company this is to recognise where the customer experience may come in the list of priorities. By now, the customer is infuriated, leading to him to send the following email:
We can all make assumptions as to why we think it is that senior leaders like the fictional James do not take the time to respond personally when customers contact them. It is often impossible for some leaders to respond personally to everything. However I know from my own experiences that if something goes wrong, and it is my name that is on a letter or an email, then it should be me that responds personally.
Senior leaders of organisations should never be afraid to come face to face with a customer – quite the contrary – they should see meeting customers (whether they be very happy or very angry) as a wonderful opportunity. The most customer centric organisations in the world thrive on all levels of the organisation regularly experiencing what both customers and colleagues experience. There is no better way to influence strategic decision-making than using genuine customer experiences as collateral for driving change.
By the way, spare a thought for the poor fictional Patricia (or the thousands like her who are used as a human shield by senior leaders too afraid to interact), hers is not a position I would like to be in. I am unable to share the end of this particular customer story – I do not hold out much hope for it ending well. I suspect that my fictional John Smith will be looking for an alternative energy source in the not too distant future.
Complaints. All of our companies receive them. We have all at some point made one ourselves. If you caught a glimpse of the recent Channel 4 TV series called ‘The Complainers’ recently, you will have seen that there are a group of people who positively thrive in actively looking for ways to make complaints about every company they interact with. Whilst this group of ‘super complainers’ are a very bad reflection of both your customer base and the way to get positive resolution to a genuine problem, the experiences we saw on the small screen did give exposure to a very important aspect of any customer journey.
I collaborate with many people in the work I do. One of the specialists I am very pleased to know is a lady called Helen Dewdney. Helen specialises in the field of complaints – on both sides of the coin. If you are a consumer who has had a problem with a company and need to know what to do – Helen is the person to get advice from. If your company wants to know how best to address complaints, Helen is equally able to guide and advise. I am delighted that Helen agreed to share her thoughts on complaints in this guest post – she believes that rather than eliminating them altogether, companies should use complaints to their advantage. Read on to find out why…..
So, I complain. A lot. No, not one of those extreme complainers with no life, or rude people who continually shout at poor call centre folk or who go looking for complaints and sees everything that goes wrong as an opportunity, I simply complain where I am legally entitled to do so and/or feel wronged. What never ceases to amaze me is the varying ways that companies deal with complaints.
Let me provide you with an example. On my blog I write about complaints. Take DunElm. I complained about there not being cream teas available at 1.30pm and that the member of staff didn’t know how to issue refunds. Now, I wrote to the manager who apologised and sent me a voucher. But what did the manager do with that information? He found out that stock hadn’t been ordered when it should have been. It formed part of a case for someone getting sacked. He put in training for other staff. The result of that complaint meant that the manager had identified a training issue which ensured that the issue wouldn’t arise again. This feedback then ensured loyalty and increased profits as two areas of the operation were addressed, improving service as well as preventing the problem happening again.
Compare this then with all my dealings with Tesco. Sometimes, if one is lucky, emails get passed to the executive office when one writes to the CEO. Last year my complaints regarding not getting a refund on vouchers landed them in court and I won. Did they learn any lessons? Nope. The whole case was due to poor communication, one department not talking to another and not following up emails, it was then compounded with lack of empowering other staff in social media. The issues remain. It is a big company and if you look over the Internet and even at the comments on my blog alone, there are many people complaining about Tesco. Obviously, a bigger company will have more mistakes made by law of averages. But, look deeper and you will see it is the same complaints about the same processes. I don’t believe that complaints are evaluated. They may be logged, they may be all over the Internet but does Tesco actually USE the information to improve service? Nope. Tesco focuses on prices, but as competition increases shouldn’t it be looking further? What do I know I’m just a customer? I’ll still shop there. Wrong.
Put Tesco complaint into a Google search. First page all the contact details as you would expect but my post is above the contact phone numbers! Had they dealt with the complaint satisfactorily then it wouldn’t be there on the first page of Google or if it was it could have been about how well the complaint was dealt with. I did it for Sainsbury’s. But with the Tesco complaint comes comment after comment about similar experiences. You can’t afford not to use complaints.
To me, it is not rocket science. Quite simply, if a complaint appears genuine a company should not only look at how they resolve the matter for a customer to their satisfaction, but at how they can use that information. So how should companies gain useful complaints and use them?
Here’s a strange thought. Why don’t companies ask the customers what they think of their service? I don’t mean by the usual feedback forms, “Fill this out and enter a prize draw”, “please tell us about your experience today” that gives such limited information. People are rushing it and don’t care what they are putting in half the time. If they have a real gripe they aren’t going to put it in a feedback form they are going to write to customer service… or worse… just walk away and not use your service again. And there you have it, the company has lost a customer without knowing about it. It doesn’t know what it doesn’t know.
So, when asking about their service, companies could really get ahead of their competitors simply by asking customers what is wrong with their own. Sound risky? Not want to know? Not doing it is, short sighted is what it is. Asking customers what is wrong, (once they have been made to feel comfortable and safe and thanked for their contribution) they’ll start to open up. Ask people who have complained in the last six months to come to a workshop. Grab all that negativity. Then take it, work with it, don’t excuse it, don’t dismiss it, use it and improve the service. Then, not only will the company be improving their service it will have done something innovative and a bit different. The opportunities from a PR point of view alone are huge.
Helen Dewdney writes the blog The Complaining Cow regarding how to make, prevent and deal with complaints effectively and positively. She appears on BBC Breakfast, Radio 5 and local radio regarding how to complain effectively and how companies can improve their customer experience.
Two weeks ago I wrote a blog post suggesting that Customer Experience as a concept and a reality was very much dead. Citing three ‘exhibits’ as evidence, I made the case for there being no hope for the profession that I am proud to be a part of. Fuelled by the simple fact that consumers all over the world are subjected to awful customer experiences on a daily basis, the depressing truth is that customers are still a very long way from being central to the thoughts of too many companies.
I have to admit, the post was a depressing one to write. However, the fact that I call myself a Customer Experience Professional suggests that it is not all doom and gloom. In fact, as we all know, there are two sides to every story. In this post, I want to make the case for the defence – I want to explore why Customer Experience is actually very much alive, and hopefully cheer you all up! To do this I am going to share the experiences of friends and acquaintances as well as my own.
Exhibit 1 – the car insurance company
Yes – it is true – the first exhibit is about a car insurance company! This may not have been what you were expecting when I said I would share positive customer experiences, but examples of organisations bringing customer experience to life often come from places we least expect.
Last week a friend of mine was so impressed with the interaction they had just experienced with their car insurer, they contacted me directly on Facebook to tell me. The company concerned was Elephant.co.uk. My friend’s Facebook post said the following:
Called elephant.co.uk to tell them my car wouldn’t start and not only did a lovely man come out VERY quickly but they called me to check on me as I had 2 kids in the car and they wanted to know I was ok – hows that for customer service?!!
When you think about it, this is what you would HOPE your car insurer would do. Their actions are almost something I would ‘take as given’ when signing up with an insurer. However, personal experiences tell me that actually, these actions are quite impressive – impressive enough for a customer to go to Facebook to tell everyone about it. Elephant make a number of customer promises on their website – have a look at this…
My friend’s experience suggests that this is not just marketing gobbledygook – this actually happens – and with a little extra sprinkling of care and attention. In a world where we find it hard to trust financial services companies, it is a breath of fresh air to hear of experiences like this.
Exhibit 2 – the luxury boat manufacturer
Now I know what you are thinking – luxury brands ALWAYS deliver experiences to match the unfathomable price tags that accompany their products. You are right in thinking that is the case most of the time. However this second exhibit demonstrates that this particular luxury brands ability to deliver amazing experiences is honest and genuine…..as it stretches to those who may never be a paying customer.
Last week I was contacted by an acquaintance of mine – a fellow Customer Experience Professional who is doing great things at one of our energy businesses – but that is a different story! My acquaintance’s email said the following:
Not sure if I’ve forwarded this to you already, but thought it was a nice touch to receive a ‘closing the loop’ message from the CEO of Sunseeker, the yacht building company! A luxury product with a wonderful attitude!
The story relates to a visit to the London Boat Show – my friend visited the annual exhibition with her Father – a retired man who has spent his life in the merchant navy and maintained his passion for the sea and everything that goes on it. Unfortunately, because his career exposed him to asbestos, he has recently been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Visiting the boat show to see the large yachts was one of the things that he had on his ‘bucket list’ (as my acquaintance describes it). However, in poor health and with shortness of breath, it looked as though it would be difficult for him to actually get on to the boats he was so excited to see.
Fortunately for him, Sunseeker had thought of all potential guests when designing the London Boat Show experience. They had contracted a specialist company to assist guests with mobility problems during the show. A wonderful, caring, empathetic man helped my acquaintance’s father from the second he saw them approach the stand. This is what was written in a letter to the Sunseeker CEO after the event:
I cannot thank you enough for the kind consideration your team paid to my father, which in no small part, was what made his day so special. In particular, I want to thank for you considering people with mobility issues. The fact that you had employed someone to specifically cater for those in wheelchairs was outstanding. Unfortunately, this sort of attention to detail is missing in so much of today’s world and too many companies make assumptions about what people are able to do, without considering that first and foremost, they are actually still people who want the same opportunities to enjoy life’s experiences as everyone else.
Your competitors at the Boat Show could learn a lot from you. Your stand was the only one who provided such outstanding service. The reps on the other large motor yacht stand could not have been less interested, in fact, they bordered on rude.
The simple act of taking into account the needs of all customers led to a wonderfully memorable customer experience. The simple fact that it is being described in this blog post demonstrates the ongoing value that behaviour like this can have on the credibility of a brand. The Sunseeker CEO also responded to the letter – personally, ensuring that my acquaintance knew how much her feedback meant to the organisation and to assure her that the employees who made the experience had been told.
Exhibit 3 – the 5 star hotel
In my case for the prosecution, I cited an exhibit of a hotel – so in the interests of balance, I will do the same in making my case for the defence. Last week I was fortunate enough to spend two nights in the JW Marriott in Kuala Lumpur. You might take as given that a 5 star hotel should deliver a 5 star experience – this is not always the case. However, the JW Marriott did not disappoint.
Great rooms with excellent facilities in a great location – the hotel had the full package. What made the experience all the more special though was the people. It is rare these days to be made to feel special in our interactions with any organisation – if you are staying at this JW Marriott, the staff go out of their way to make you feel welcome. On my way to Malaysia, I watched a documentary about the Marriott hotel empire on the plane. In the documentary, Bill Marriott was quoted as saying ‘we don’t sell widgets, we sell experiences’ – I can confirm that this is absolutely the case.
I wrote a Customer Experience Review about the hotel – you can read it here.
That concludes my case for the defence. Three stories that prove to me that customer experience is living and breathing – it is alive and well. I am sure you could share many more stories that demonstrate what it truly means to be customer centric.
My two blog posts prove that Customer Experience is still very much an evolution. To many it is a natural component that makes their companies tick – to others, it is still a long way off being a consideration, let alone a reality. I believe it is important that we continually share as many experiences (on both sides of the coin) as possible. Hopefully those that are still to start their transformation will be inspired by the art of the possible, while those who are already doing great things, will continue to do so.
Please feel free to share you stories with me – the more the merrier!
This is the second Customer Experience Review I have conducted in the last couple of weeks. Two weeks ago, I wrote my first review of a hotel – Wotton House in Surrey. If you have read that review, you will already know that the experience fell a long way short of meeting my expectations (you can read the review here). The review that you are now about to read looks at another hotel – a few thousand miles away from Wotton House. I am very fortunate to travel a lot with my work and sometimes that sees me visiting distant shores. This week I spent three days in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – my board and lodgings were provided by the JW Marriott Hotel. It is often useful to compare reviews of businesses in the same industry and that is why I thought it would be an interesting exercise to apply my Customer Experience Review format on the JW Marriott. The question is – would my conclusions be similar to Wotton House….or not!
Much of the time when I am travelling, hotels are selected for me. As with Wotton House two weeks ago, I did not choose to stay at the JW Marriott in Kuala Lumpur. I was visiting Malaysia to deliver a Customer Experience workshop, and my accommodation was selected by the training company. One similarity between Wotton House and the JW Marriott is that both hotels are owned by groups – they are not independent. The multi-national Marriott Empire is significantly bigger than Principal Hayley (who own Wotton House) – the Marriott Group own a number of different brands, including one of the most customer centric organisations on the planet – the Ritz Carlton. My expectations of the JW Marriott in Kuala Lumpur were therefore quite high – I was very much hoping that they would not let me down. Let the review commence…
Accessibility – CX Review Score 8/10
How easy was it for me to do what I needed to do with the JW Marriott in Kuala Lumpur? For this category I have awarded the JW (for short!) a good score of 8 out of 10. Although I was not responsible for booking the hotel, having reviewed the JW Marriott website, if I had of completed the reservation process myself, it would not have been an issue. Easy to find, intuitive to use, it is as good as any hotel website I have seen.
The hotel is located in the centre of the city – it is attached to a shopping Mall, and directly opposite another shopping Mall. The iconic Petronas Towers are only a ten minute stroll along an air conditioned walkway! The choice of restaurants and bars within a 100 metre radius is endless. JW have negotiated a 10% discount for guests of the hotel at many of the restaurants, so you are not even restricted to room service or a lifeless hotel dining room. It is very difficult to find fault with the location.
The hotel itself has everything you would expect from a JW Marriott in addition to the excellent dining variety. A Spa is complimented by a very well stocked gym – a gym that is very sensibly open 24 hours a day – something that satisfies me greatly. There is also a lovely swimming pool. The conference facilities are excellent, and nothing was too much trouble – I never once felt guilty asking the staff for help (something I often feel in other hotels I have frequented).
The hotel is fully Wi-Fi enabled (as you would expect), but this is where the JW does lose points in my scoring. The ‘free’ Wi-Fi’ given to guests as standard is so slow, that it is almost not worth having it in the first place. It was taking me almost 30 seconds to open an email. When I contacted reception, they immediately apologised and offered to ‘upgrade’ me to the premium Wi-Fi service free of charge. In my opinion, the premium Wi-Fi should be standard – I should not have had to ask. Wi-Fi has become a basic for hotel experiences – making it difficult for customers to connect to the internet will be detrimental to most customer experiences.
My bedroom was very nice – not the best room I have ever stayed in, but very good. Well furnished, the super king-size bed was incredibly comfortable, with plenty of different types of pillow to satisfy the requirements of all guests. A huge ‘up to date’ TV was complemented by a DVD player. The bathroom was fabulous, sporting a separate shower from the bath – not enough hotels (especially in the UK) have separate showers.
All in all, the JW in Kuala Lumpur was very good on the accessibility front – hence the high score.
Range/Choice – CX Review Score 7/10
When looking at Range and Choice in the context of a hotel, there are a number of things that I deem to be important. I believe that the hotel should offer a variety of room formats – from a ‘basic’ option; to rooms with single or double beds; to family friendly rooms; to rooms that are easily accessible for people who need it. As a family of 5, I am also very keen to know if a hotel would be able to accommodate us – either in one room, or via interconnecting rooms. You would be amazed how many hotels in the world will not do either.
The JW in Kuala Lumpur has plenty of variety and choice. I stayed in a Deluxe room with a City View – the cheapest option – quite frankly, it is not worth spending any more. If you want more, you can go for an Executive room, a Studio Suite or a Junior Suite. They also have rooms for those that require easy access, and are still able to offer smoking rooms.
The JW falls down on the family front. It does not matter if you have a two bedroom suite or a ‘basic’ deluxe room – the maximum occupancy for a room in this hotel is three people. That means a family of four of five would have to pay for two rooms. When there is no legal reason why more than three people cannot stay in one room, this is a ‘policy’ that enables hotels to make more money out of guests – or at least that is how it feels. It is not clear if the hotel even has inter-connecting rooms.
For the JW to increase their score in this category, they need to consider making their hotel a more effective option for a family of four or more.
People – CX Review Score 9/10
The Ritz Carlton are famous for delivering world class customer service – so famous in fact, that other brands send their staff to be trained by them. Having interacted with the staff at the JW in Kuala Lumpur, it is clear that the Ritz Carlton is not the only part of the Marriott Group who ‘get’ customer service. From the minute I approached the front door of the hotel, to the second I got in my taxi to return to the airport, I was met with smiling, polite, friendly, helpful staff. Their behaviour was exemplary.
Every time I spoke to someone, they addressed me as ‘Sir’. Every employee I came across made eye contact with me – from the cleaning staff to the concierge to the receptionists. If their mission was to make you feel welcome, they succeeded with flying colours.
Even speaking to hotel employees on the phone was a pleasant experience. It was difficult to find fault. Being picky, the only thing I would say is that there is a risk that they take their customer focussed behaviour slightly too far. I actually found it quite difficult to end a phone conversation the other night – the lovely ladies I spoke to were overdoing it – ‘is there anything else I can help you with’; enjoy your evening; please contact me if you need anything else; thank you so much for calling – I kid you not, all of this was delivered at the end of one telephone call – all I wanted was to arrange a wakeup call! It is lovely, but too much kindness can get a little irritating.
I do not want to end on a minor negative though – the JW Kuala Lumpur employees are a credit to the company and to the brand – others (including Wotton House) could learn a lot from the way they conduct their business.
Value – CX Review Score 9/10
The JW in Kuala Lumpur is not the cheapest hotel in the city – but it is also not what I would consider expensive. One night in a Deluxe room can cost as little as £144 a night – that is amazing value for a city centre hotel of this quality. An equivalent quality hotel in London would cost three times the amount.
Value is defined by more than just price – in this case, the quality of the product and the service mean that a score of 9 out of 10 is very well deserved.
How did it make me feel? – CX Review Score 9/10
The best word to describe how my JW Marriott experience made me feel is ‘great’! Lovely location; very good room; very good facilities; and excellent customer service. It felt like I was staying in a hotel that knew what it was doing. My high expectations of the JW brand had been met – I was delighted. This is how all companies should aspire to make their customers feel.
It is important to note that despite this, the JW in Kuala Lumpur still have room for improvement. They scored 42/50 in my Customer Experience Review process – continuous tinkering with some of the things I have described would see that score rise. It is always a good thing to have room to improve – as long as the brand recognises that improvement is always necessary!
Would I use them again? YES
It was pretty easy to guess my answer to this question. If I come to Kuala Lumpur again – on business or for pleasure, I would be very happy to stay at the JW. Not only that, but if friends or colleagues were to ask me for hotel recommendations in Kuala Lumpur, what do you think I am likely to say? I would have no hesitation in recommending the JW – as long as it met the budget of the person asking me!!
My experience has also reinforced my perception of the Marriott Group. Whilst the CEO is no longer a Marriott by name, the family influence is still significant – Bill Marriott would probably not be happy that the JW in Kuala Lumpur only scored 42/50 – but that is because he expects perfection – and that is a good thing. Bill Marriott once said – ‘we’re not selling widgets. We’re selling experiences’ – my experience demonstrates that the experiences they are serving up are pretty good!