When talking about customer experience, bringing the story to life with real world examples is a really useful way to help people “get” what you are trying to achieve. It’s not always easy to do in a public forum such as a blog – I need to be mindful of individual’s privacy and customer reputations, but sometimes, experiences are so good that I really want to share them as examples to help inspire other businesses. In this blog, I’ll look at three specific examples of how an individual’s actions contributed to a significant shift in my perception of the brand and ultimately loyalty to said brand. For each example, there’s a theme that matters in the customer experience.
Consistency – Keir @ CitizenM Hotels: As a business traveller, dining alone at restaurants, waiting in airport lounges for delayed flights and overnight stays in anonymous business hotels are all par for the course. You get used to the anonymous, lonely world of travelling by yourself. Over time, you develop habits to pass the time – reading, people watching, chatting to strangers. Each trip feels the same, and it’s nice to have some degree of familiarity with the airport, hotels and restaurants you end up in. But what makes a real difference is consistent quality of customer experience.
When travelling for work, I stay at a particular Citizen M hotel. It’s a good location, funky brand full of beautiful Vitra furniture and sensibly priced. The familiar look and feel of the rooms is reassuring, and whenever I arrive, I settle in quickly and relax straight away. When I head down to the lounge bar area, I am invariably greeted by a really cool chap called Keir. He always remembers my name, he always makes the greeting personal, and he chat to me as old acquaintances might do. The boring business hotel suddenly has a friendly connection. Keir makes me feel welcome, and I know that I can expect a smiling greeting and a good chat. It’s nothing to do with the look and feel of the hotel (although it is pretty cool), but ultimately, I stay at the same hotel time and time again because the personal experience makes me feel almost at home.
Service recovery – Magnus @ Skandium: Thanks to my husband, I have a love of Finnish style in general, and a particular penchant for Finnish glassware. Flying to Finland to purchase the glassware is a little too far, so I rely on a beautiful Nordic design store in London, called Skandium to make my purchases. The store can be relied on to stock all the latest products, laid out beautifully, with staff who are just as passionate about Finnish, Swedish and danish design.
I was rather disappointed that a purchase I’d recently made whilst in Helsinki had broken – Finnish quality is usually exceptionally high. But since I loved the item, I decided that I should buy a replacement, so headed to Skandium to make my purchase. Chatting with Magnus, I explained why I was making the purchase. He was genuinely saddened that the item had broken, and offered a replacement. I was so touched that he cared about my experience, and was very impressed with the lengths he was willing to go to in order to fix the situation. Skandium always was my go-to store for Finnish purchases, but now, I find myself purchasing even more items from the store due to that exceptional service experience.
Issue resolution – Raj @ British Airways: My many experiences with British Airways have been varied to say the least. But I remain loyal to British Airways, flying with them at least 3 times every month. I’ve been saving my air miles for a fantastic trip I was planning. Those who know me will understand just how much thought and effort I put into my big trips. Flying first class across the Atlantic with my husband and a couple of family members, using upgrades and air miles to get the best possible price on a specific date for a fabulous Christmas trip. It’s tricky to find a first class flight for air miles, and very rare to find four, but I had worked out how I was going to achieve this.
I stayed up till midnight, so that I could call as soon as the flights became available to secure the tickets. I called through and was connected to Raj. I explained my complex request, and right away, he started the booking process. All was going well, until Raj pointed out a problem with one of my upgrade vouchers, meaning that it would be impossible to complete the booking. In all my planning, I had missed this issue – I felt utterly deflated at the prospect of having to cancel the other flights and hotels because of my mistake. Raj was incredibly understanding, he empathised with me, and insisted that he would try and get the matter fixed for me. He even offered to email me updates along the way – I was still worried that he would not be able to sort this out, but felt very appreciative of his efforts. A couple of days later, Raj emailed the fantastic news that he had sorted the matter, and the flights were booked. I cannot express how grateful I felt – this man had restored my faith in British Airways by going above and beyond, making special efforts to sort out an issue that was my fault.
In each of the three example, the human element of the brand is the loyalty driver. These three individual felt empowered to deliver delight – no scripts, rigid processes or clever marketing. As always, these examples, it’s a good reminder on why you should spend as much effort on the profile of the people who serve your customers as on your products and services.