My husband and I were fortunate enough to have a wonderful holiday in Puerto Rico. We experienced the wonderful old town of San Juan, the tropical rainforest of El Yunque and finally the small paradise island of Vieques. I wanted to share observations on customer experience from my trip to Puerto Rico. In last week’s post, I focused on the human touch element of customer experience is still very much alive and present, compared to many customer experiences in America. In this week’s post I’ll explore my other main observation, that rather than focusing on grand or excessive customer experiences, in Puerto Rico you get to experience the benefit of attention to small detail – brilliant basics, magic touches.
Less is more – In an ideal world, every business wishes that their product is the best, with the highest level of customer engagement and delight. In reality, customer delight is an impossible feat, especially for those who offer transactional customer experiences (“I don’t want this, but I need to have it.”) It is of course an admirable and desirable mindset to aspire to 100% delight with your customers. In experiential customer experiences (“I don’t need this, but I really want it”), there is far greater scope for delight, and when it comes to holidays and vacations, particularly at the top end of budget spend, it’s easy to get carried away. Whilst staying in the El Yunque rainforest, our charming bead and breakfast room had a simple balcony, with two bath tubs and two hammocks. During the daytime, the views of the green forest were breath-taking, but on an evening, with all the lights turned out, the sounds of the rainforest were what we came to experience. The sound of the rainforest combined with the stars was breath-taking, and no amount of luxury items, high end service or premium brands could compete. Instead, the owners focused on the core product – sound and sight of rainforest – and avoided any distractions form that. When you product or service delivers exactly to the customer need, try to avoid anything else getting in the way of that!
DO sweat the small stuff – In Puerto Rico, most tourist go to enjoy the scenery, relax and embrace nature. As such, when our pace slows down, we may well start to notice the smaller details that pass us by in every day life. The way hotel staff remember the way you like your coffee, or even how you like your cocktail served is so much more appreciated when we have time to enjoy it. We experienced numerous occasions were the servers ad bar staff paid so much attention to detail, adding an extra twist of lime to the cocktail or remembering to bring pepper with the meal. Small things, but it made us feel special, and although we may not have mentioned it, as customers, we really appreciated it. Motivating your people to pick up on the small details of service delivery is really difficult, but it starts from you managing them in the same way you want them to deliver to your customers.
Spend less, focus on experience – As customer experiences has evolved, and customer expectations have surged, it feels harder and harder to deliver customer satisfaction and stand out form the crowd. We employ agencies and experts to help us think even more outside the box, making our experiences ever more complicated. I love going away on holiday, because it reconnects me with what matters in a customer experience and go back to basics. For example, whilst on Vieques, even though we chose very simple lodgings, they provided deck chairs, a cool box and snorkelling equipment in every room. It was wonderful reminder of what we were there to do, and a simple way to help customers make the most of their experience,. Of course, they could have made such equipment available for hire, but instead, this seaside hotel, focused on the basics of customer experience to deliver maximum delight. Find a way to experience your customer experience through your customers’ eye to see what brilliant basics you might be missing – often at very little cost but high impact!
Don’t judge a book by its cover – Our overall experience of Puerto Rico felt very genuine, and if I had to summarise the customer experiences from our trip, it made me realise that simple places tried so much harder to make a difference to the customers. Unlike larger businesses and international chains, small businesses are heavily reliant on word of mouth and reputation, so by making the extra effort to impress, they are able to compete with the big boys. Each place that we stayed at, each restaurant and bar we visited held it’s own charm, and deliver a personal feel that is so lacking in “big brand” experience. Even if the service sometimes lacked a little polish, the personal nature of the delivery trumped most premium services. Whilst large businesses may be busy focusing on creating magic touches, it’s the small businesses that consistently deliver the brilliant basics.
As you can tell, we loved Puerto Rico, and will be going back, but in the meantime, I’m going to stay focused on those brilliant basics in my customer experience delivery!