People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
How often do you receive a surprise ‘wow’ customer experience from a business you have selected? While it is not that often, it makes a big impact on your impression of the company, doesn’t it? Like Maya says, people will never forget how ‘a company’ made you feel. The Marriott marketing strategy has recently placed an increased emphasis on customer experience efforts in their properties.
Let me describe my experiences at the Marriott Stanton South Beach Miami during a recent stay.
For starters, let me back track momentarily. I have been a loyal Marriott customer from the start of my business career for over 45 years. Did quite a bit of travel throughout my career, and got sold early on with Marriott, from their Rewards Program, one of the best, if not the best in the industry. Of course, in addition, their properties were all consistently outstanding. But since my retirement I have not had the opportunity to stay with them very often.
But for my wife and I’s 20th anniversary we decided to visit Miami Beach for a couple of nights recently. For my many years of loyalty I am a Marriott Platinum Rewards member. The most significant benefit of this is having access to the concierge lounge and upgrade to a nicer room if available.
When I called to make a reservation, the corporate reservation desk person reminded me that he would request an ocean view upgrade, in case they were any available. A few days later, after thinking about it, I called the local hotel front desk, told them we had a reservation for 2 nights in celebration of our 20th anniversary, and asked for a special favor for the ocean view room for this special occasion. The front desk assured me they would do their best.
On our arrival at check-in the front desk welcomed us with a warm anniversary congratulations and welcome. They said they were able to find us a very nice ocean view room. We certainly were not disappointed.
Later, after getting back from an afternoon of sightseeing and a dinner on the bay, we returned to the room to receive a very nice bottle of champagne and fresh strawberries from the front desk and hotel chef. What a great surprise and ‘wow’ customer experience.
The thing is this: the front line of any brand in the marketplace is not the advertising, packaging, or product design. It is the interaction of the customer experiences that determines the brand’s reputation to a large degree. It is human and emotion, and at that critical time when a customer engages with your employees at your touch points, your brand (your product and reputation) will either be enhanced or diminished. No doubt about our experience was there?
Want to know one of the most effective ways that any company can use to build its brand and create reciprocity with its customers?
By surprising them!
People like getting things for free and like them even more when they are viewed as ‘favors’. But even more, they love receiving these favors as surprises.
Why give away this sort of benefit as a surprise?
A company like Marriott (known for their quality customer experience) recognizes the benefits of surprising people with a “wow” experience.
This kind of example is justified by almost any cost, and the cost hit Marriott took by doing this is paid back multiple times over by the customer loyalty and customer word of mouth recognition they generate from making people happy.
So … a company’s brand communicates every time it touches a customer.
As a marketer you need to manage this communication and be responsible for each ‘moment of truth’. Marriott certainly has this type of brand marketing down pat, and well recognizes it value.
But our customer experience observations about this South Beach Marriott did not end there. Here are a few more experiences we observed:
Everyone ‘on the stage’ has a cast role, and as such, is responsible to contribute to the positive customer experience by being as helpful and assuring as possible. We only saw one employee who did not smile or greet us positively.
Each customer facing employee is expected to be ‘show ready’ whenever they are on stage. Everyone has a part to play as a component of the show. Everyone at this Marriott knew there role and was more than show ready.
Show guests fun
Everyone showed their commitment and responsibility for ensuring the property remains clean, friendly, and most of all, fun. Emphasis on pleasant and fun.
All employees were ‘assertively friendly’. They sought out those who look like they need help, before they come looking for help. They could not have been more helpful and friendly. It started at check-in when we were asked if we had ever been to the hotel or Miami Beach before. When we said no … the front desk spent 5-10 minutes with a map discussing the area and things to see.
What Marriott is saying to its employees … if you act in support of the values that really matter to our business, we want you to take the initiative to care of our customers.
Marriott certainly knows all there is to know about customer immersion and customer experience, don’t they? It is a culture handed down by William Marriott himself.
This is a very simple concept, eh? But how many of us put such a thing into practice with our own people? Sit down today with your employees and do what Marriott did. Start building your employee empowerment culture today.
Companies that are proactively managing all elements of their customer experiences are most successful in achieving customer loyalty. Like to learn more about the Marriott Stanton South Beach?
What can your business apply from this Marriott operation that would improve your customer experience? Please share a story about a creative customer experience design strategy with this community. Perhaps you’d like to add a comment or ask a question?
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Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he blogs on topics that relate to improving the performance of your business. Find them on G+, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
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