NO ONE OWNS the GUEST, but SOMEONE always OWNS the MOMENT

Moment of Truth - Decide to be Real

Disney’s Boyle quoted this in the recent Forrester’s Marketing Forum , 2010 – “No one owns the guest, but someone always owns the moment”

Let’s walk through an example and this will further illustrate Boyle’s point of view

A couple of weeks back , a distant acquaintance of mine moves with his family from India to the US (Chicago to be specific), on a work related assignment for Deloitte for the first time . He was entitled to stay in a hotel for the 1 month duration and hence chooses the Residence Inn (Marriott being the group company) because of its proximity to the client location. This is their “first” visit to Chicago and hence the numerous butterflies in their stomach. Strangely, he has this major stomach pain one night and the doctor tells him that he need to be immediately  operated for removing his appendix.Here’s where Marriott comes into the picture and creates multiple instances which formed an indelible impression by being “real” . Marriott  did the following – arrange for commute between hotel and hospital , regularly checked with the other family members whether they needed help with grocery shopping , with other retail shopping etc. Icing on the cake – the Marriott management sent the family a “Get well soon” cookie when my friend returned from the hospital . Again a gripping “Moment of Truth” created .

What does the above incident  tell us ?

Irrespective of whether Marriott and its sister concerns are collectively viewed as a “beloved company” , there are key learnings from this example –

1. The Marriott staff added a humanity aspect to their interaction with their guest by sending the “Get Well Soon” cookie. for my friend and his family , it must have felt like getting a “get well” card from my near and dear ones . So, Marriott now built this personal relationship with its guest

2. The Marriott staff regularly checked with the family on my friend’s well-being whenever the staff members met the family members in the hotel lobby or the alleys.  This point coupled with the above point shows 2 things – Marriott staff was clear about why they are in the business – to make your guest’s stay a memorable one (like he/she is close to his/her near and dear ones  – Clarity of Purpose . This also reflects that they treated customers as human beings with the same set of common feelings of anguish , happiness etc . So they were able to more effectively connect with their guests because they represented a business which acted as a living human being

3. The hotel staff took the necessary actions which seemed logical to them . They , obviously , did not have to tread through yards of official bureaucracy to act in the way that they did. What’s important here  – Obviously the hotel management had enabled a working environment where the staff was empowered to take actions which was part of the hotel culture and which was humane in approach .One should and can only  build the culture and the actions are a by-product of that culture . One cannot build actions . What one can build is the right intent & motivation behind the actions and that will result in consistent , synchronised actions being delivered again and again over a period of time.

This point coupled with the above point shows 2 things – Marriott staff was clear about why they are in the business – to make your guest’s stay a memorable one (like he/she is close to his/her near and dear ones  – Clarity of Purpose . This also reflects that they treated customers as human beings with the same set of common feelings of anguish , happiness etc . So they were able to more effectively connect with their guests because they represented a business which acted as a living human being.

So , from a learning standpoint or from  Customer Experience standpoint  , it’s very important that we always remember the Golden Rule of Customer Centricity – “Do to others what you would like to be done to you” . In this example , obviously the individuals of staff acknowledged the fact that had they been in such a situation , they would have expected any other human to act in the way they did. So they were clear from a humanitarian aspect with how they would have liked to be handled in a similar situation . So their reactions(help extended to the family) were based on the logical actions(they put themselves in the customer’s shoes).

My ending note would be that “People” are the most important component of the intersections pyramidal aspects of Customer Experience Management namely People , Technology and Process . The most effective channel at the end of the day , I would still like to believe in are the Staff Facing Channels. One might have multi channel integration , great websites (of course experience design is again a reflection of the company culture and attitude towards customer ) , efficient Straight through processes but at the end of the day – the moments of truth are created when there is a human to human interaction . That’s human !! You don’t form make or break impressions through website, IVR , ATM interactions . The moments of truth creation happens when the customer talks to the face of the organisation – the organisation’s employees . Process and technology do play their role but they need to purely viewed as enablers . The torch bearers are your employees. (for reference Key Components of Customer Experience)

The first step to Customer Experience Management after outlining your strategy and objectives is to Align , Educate , Enable  & Empower your people i.e your employees because they are the bearers of your image – be it during a f2finteraction (touch-points) or a back-office or a technology staff action (impact-points) . Simply put , organisations need to build a scalable , sustainable “Mom & Pop” shop model. Wind back to the forties or fifties when everyone used to shop from their neighbourhood retail stores  and they used to be addressed as “Mr.John or Mr. Oliver Twist” as soon as they entered the shop

Remember the Golden Rule ? Put yourself in a customer’s shoes . And then if you think that you would want to be treated by every business like your neighbourhood “Jack & Jill’s ” shop who personally know you , address you by your first name , then why wouldn’t your customer want you to treat him / her the same  way ? A very simple axiom.

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