Systems, Expectations, Promises

Lessons from the Hospitality Industry

She looked away, and seemed to busy herself with other things. With what exactly was hard to tell. We hung in the doorway, wondering what the process was. The breakfast buffet was obvious in front of us, but being our first morning we had no idea whether to make ourselves at home and just get stuck in, or wait to be seated. There were some awkward moments while we hung there whispering to each other about what to do next.

Eventually we made our way to  a table where the experience continued. A notice at the table said we could order eggs ad coffees. The person we had seen earlier seemed to have vanished. We started to make a coffee at the coffee machine, which prompted a staff member to show up and take over. With a bit of a push we got her to take our egg order as well.

These are really small issues AND  they have a significant impact on customer experience. The following day, it was as if we were in a different hotel chain. We were greeted by name by 3 highly visible staff, who asked where we wanted to sit, and took a coffee and egg order as soon as we were comfortable. They took the time to find out what we planned to do for the day, and offered assistance to organise it if we needed it. Gentle music played in the background. 

The fundamentals hadn't changed - there were staff, and food, and furniture - but the second day was easier, much more pleasurable and more in keeping with the promises of a high end 5 star hotel.

Hospitality done well demonstrates many behind the scenes things done well. They have systems to let them know who guests are, and if they are returning, to record some preferences.  Staff put people at ease, and live up to the promises made by the chains reputation or star rating. They also do  great job of checking in with people to see if expectations are met.

So often, the businesses I work with or experience seem to regard it as the customer/client job to navigate their systems. Sometimes it's as if the customer is actually a hinderance. Some businesses have great systems, but use them sporadically, or not at all. Either way it results in an inconsistent experience for the customer. 

In a world where people are time poor, overloaded with information and decisions, businesses can deliver a sense of certainty to their customers, just by being courteous, consistent and committed.

Over the past few months I have been doing some work in partnership with The Bullshift Company. One of the explicit values of the company is "Be easy to deal with". We will work around our own internal issues and glitches to ensure that the customer experiences us as easy to deal with.

What can you do during the next 30 days to raise the level of consistency, certainty and comfort your customers experience? How will you ensure that experience continues beyond the end of the month?