Put A Date On Hold

What happened to Jas? | Text messages & the consumer experience

I travel a lot and I stay at a lot of hotels. I'm on the road about 125 or 150 days a year – that's 150 hotel nights so I know a lot about hotels.

I want to share with you a couple of text messages I got on my phone from one particular hotel, and explain what these text messages have to do with the consumer experience.

My experience in Toronto

I had checked in to the Toronto Hilton Airport Hotel for an event which I was speaking at. Shortly after I checked in, I got a text message from Viki welcoming me to the hotel – Viki was the woman who checked me in so I thought this was a nice customer experience.

The next morning, I got a text message from someone else at the hotel: “Just checking in. How is your stay going so far? Feel free to reply back with a one through 10, 10 being excellent. Have a great day, Jas.”

I responded with the following: “Maybe a six?” By the way it does have the question mark. Maybe a six? And here's what Jas says: “Thank you for the rating. Was there anything else we could have done to earn a 10 for this stay?”

Now I want you to keep in mind two things. One, I’ve not checked out yet, I'm still at this hotel for another two days. And two, I'm staying at the Toronto Hilton Airport Hotel. There’s nothing they could do to make this a 10. Literally nothing.

Okay that's not true. They could bring in a beach, they could build a bunch of restaurants right around the hotel instead of just a gas station next door, they could quiet the deafening noise of airplanes departing every five minutes from one of the busiest airports in the world.

I did respond by saying that there's nothing they could do to make my stay a 10 because you're the Toronto Hilton Airport Hotel. And at that point, Jas asked me to hold on for a second.

A few seconds later, I get a text message from Miguel. And Miguel says: “Thank you for the rating. Is there anything we can do to help make your stay a 10?”

Now I just got this question from Jas. So I ask: “Who's Miguel?” And Miguel says he's the manager and invites me to come down to the hotel lobby. I respond with: “Why? Why do I need to come down to the hotel lobby?” And I get no response from anyone else at the hotel that morning.

Are your expectations for your customer and clients' experiences reasonable?

As a business, we need to have reasonable expectations for our customer and clients' experience. The Toronto Hilton Airport Hotel is never going to be a 10. It just is impossible. This is closer to a 10 than the Airport Hilton and it has nothing to do with the hotel itself.

And two, we need to be very careful with the kinds of interactions we invite our consumers and clients to have with us. Instead of asking me to rate a hotel on a scale of one to 10, isn't there a better way to interact with me? Especially because I'm still at the hotel. Instead of asking me how to make it a 10, just work to make it a 10. Even if that's impossible.

The problem with automation

Here's the second thing I think we all need to embrace in this age of automated marketing and customer and client interactions.

A day after I checked out and had already boarded a plane to fly somewhere else, I got a text message from Jas again and he asked me the same question, could I rate the hotel experience on a scale of one to 10?

I responded to Jas by saying that we’d had this conversation two days ago, there's nothing you can do to make it a 10. And weirdly enough, I got a response from Natasha. Who's Natasha?! So I asked Natasha: “What happened to Jas?”

Natasha told me that Jas had pre-scheduled that text message and essentially that she has access to all of the text messages as well, and Jas is off today.

This is another teachable moment. Yes, we can automate all of these interactions with our customers and clients. But at the end of the day, the relationships you're building, especially in text messaging or email are one-to-one relationships.

My relationship with Viki, who I checked in with could have been maintained throughout my entire customer stay. Instead of passing me around to four total people at the hotel.

Make the experience personal and consistent

If you want to build a great experience, make the experience personal.

And even if you are going to automate some of the experience, make sure the experience is consistent.

We can deliver much better customer experiences just by delivering great consistent experiences with our customers and clients. And I don't mean consistent from interaction to interaction. I mean consistent with the people they're dealing with.

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