Delighting Customers One Clip at a Time
By Lior Arussy
the award for the best, although simplest, way to delight customers
goes the Seattle Crowne Plaza Hotel.
During my travels I get to stay in wide variety of hotels
around the world. I am
often impressed by the many inventions dreamed up by the hotels geared
to enhance the guests’ experience and add value by solving issues
that matter. But the
Crowne Plaza Hotel in Seattle
because they managed to solve a problem, even I, the seasoned guest,
did not notice and recognize as a problem.
This is a proactive approach that does not wait for customer
complaints to dictate the hotel’s actions.
Instead, the hotel took a proactive approach to anticipate the
issues. Kudos. What a way
you are probably asking: “What is the big invention that impressed
me so much?” (something which I must admit is pretty difficult to
do). A Drape Clip.
“What is a Drape Clip?” you are asking?
I asked the same question, when I first saw a sizable plastic
clip named “Drape Clip” attached to the room drapes.
After the turndown service, the mystery was solved.
The maid used the clip to attach the right and left drapes to
ensure complete darkness and prevent even a single ray of sun from
entering my room uninvited. It
was at that moment that I realized that most hotel drapes do not close
all the way and they leave a narrow, yet annoying space between them.
This narrow space allows the sun’s rays to enter at an early
hour of the day and causes guests to wake up before the time they
intended to. Once you are awake, it is difficult to go back to sleep
and you end up tired throughout the day due to as you are short on
sleep. Someone at the
hotel actually thought about the guest and their need for sleep and
tried to place himself or herself in the guest’s shoes (or bed) both
physically and mentally. Only
by doing such an exercise could someone have come up with an invention
such as the Drape Clip.
often complain that delighting customers is expensive and eats into
their margins. They add
that their industry is heavily commoditized and there are no new ideas
left to introduce to their market.
Both claims may be equally applicable in the hospitality
industry. The competition
is tough. Many brands
compete for the guests’ attention and wallet.
The high end of the market includes some fancy perks at a high
price that fewer customers can actually afford.
Is great experience a matter of high costs only?
No, it does not have to be that way. Great
experiences can and should be affordable in order to reach greater
target audience. The Drape
Clip is not too costly. It
was not a revolutionary idea that transformed an industry.
It is simple. What
makes it special is the fact that it was more a matter of thinking
like a customer. A simple
but creative idea can make all the difference. Companies failure to
delight customers, has little to do with budget, and mostly a result
of inability to think like their customers.
It is a state of mind more than a size of budget. A simple
imaginative exercise that addresses the questions:
is the real problem we solve for the customer?” (In the hotel
business it is not just room availability, but rather executive
effectiveness and hence the importance of sleeping well.)
does the customer consume our products or service?” (Different
customers consume them differently.
Search for the bizarre and you may find some interesting
else is missing to perfect the total experience?” (Never assume
it is complete. The
day you declare success is the day you start losing the battle to
can I surprise the customer?” (Surprise is what brings the Wow
expectations is just OK. Do
not expect special excitement. Customers will get excited and be
willing to pay and be loyal if you demonstrate the ability to be
one step ahead of them and solve their problems before they even
think about them.)
future belongs to the Drape Clips, a simple, yet brilliant,
application of a cost effective solution to delight customers.
This is an era where every company struggles to keep costs down
and yet find ways to innovate. This
could seemingly be a serious conflict. In
this instance, something creatively implemented, something simple and
brilliant, wins over lavish and expensive.
Delighting customers and creating memorable, clear
differentiation comes from ideas like the Drape Clip.
These ideas demonstrate thinking like the customer and
anticipating his needs.
sounds so simple, yet it seems difficult for companies to achieve.
The current product or service focus, which includes the
ongoing struggle to keep costs down, leaves companies thinking
“products” and not “customers”.
Executives are consumed with the costs of their products’
features, the raw materials required to produce and the processes
required to deliver them. They
have not resources left over to focus on thinking like the customers.
Another barrier to simple brilliant ideas is the fear of
increased costs. Their
perception that experience is only within the realm of high end
products and any customer delighting features will throw their cost
model off the charts, restricts them from even trying.
This perception, however, is a false one.
Without constant innovation, the product will lose the
customer’s attention and will be subject to price pressure. This is
how companies bring commoditization and price pressure upon themselves
- they give up on the ongoing cycle of product innovation.
They stop thinking “customers” and start thinking
customers have become more powerful these days, companies still have a
choice. The choice is
either to continue to believing the perception that “experience is
expensive” and therefore choosing the path of no innovation or to
stop acting powerless and taking charge of their destinies.
The consequences are clear, choosing the path of no innovation,
is a vote toward accelerated commoditization (you might as well count
on further, on going cost reductions and shrinking budgets).
Selecting the path of innovation, will require different
thinking, but will lead toward growth and healthier, more profitable
you can make the choice to innovate and continue courting customers
through new ideas. The
future belongs to those companies who can come up with Drape Clips,
simple, yet brilliant ideas that anticipate the customer’s needs and
address them. So to get
started, let’s do a simple exercise.
Ask yourself a simple question: “What can I do with a regular
plastic clip to delight my customers?”
Be creative. The
power is in the idea. Good
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