Thursday, August 20, 2009

Your Customers Expect The "Make It Happen" Button

Marketers, hospitality brands, everyone: consider this a friendly reminder that creating a positively talkable customer experience should still be strategy numero uno in your playbook. Why? Because customers now  expect the "Make It Happen" button. 

Put yourself in the shoes of your customer. (OK, it's me. Today. But pretend that it is you. Seriously. Do it. Please.) Imagine this experience. It might help you deeply understand that what your customers go through -- and what they expect from you -- is much bigger than you think. 

You're leaving on a business trip. When you are dropped at the airport, your four-year-old is crying and screaming "Mommy Mommy Mommy" in the car, so your nerves are raw and you haven't even entered the airport yet. First leg of the trip goes fine, you're starting to relax. Your connecting flight leaves on time, you're thinking "no sweat. I'm good." Until you are told that there are 32 (yes, 32) planes ahead of you on the runway. You regroup, read your book, make pleasant conversation with your seat mate with some serious halitosis. Fine. Until you fly into a thunderstorm, think you're falling out of the sky, and circle the airport for a while before you are allowed to land. All this before you even get to your hotel. 

(Hotel marketers -- Hampton Inn & Suites, specifically: are you paying attention now? You should be.) You - the customer - are incredibly relieved to get to your hotel. Until you realize that the gate agent at the airport kept your American Express card.  You regroup again and head to your room. Nice amenities, you're thinking ahhhhh at last. I can order some room service and chill out. The menu looks great. So you push the room service button and...no one answers. You see that there is a "Make It Happen" button. "Let us spoil you. Direct any request to our make it happen line." SWEET, you're thinking. Surely someone at the make it happen button will bring me some food. Except, um, no one answers the "make it happen" button either. (Seriously. I am not making this up.)

So, you call the front desk and are informed that, oops, the restaurant is closed for renovations - we "forgot" to mention that when you made your reservation. But hey, we can shuttle you to another part of town, you can order a pizza, or you can walk five blocks to a diner after traveling for nine hours. We can "make that happen" for you! 

Guess what your customer says? Can you guess? "Make this happen: I am checking out. Now. Buh-bye. And when I get to my new hotel, I am going to write a blog post about your God-awful service, that I hope through some small miracle many people see. Let's make that happen." 

Then, you get to your new hotel, and, um, find your American Express card, which you've already cancelled, and they won't reinstate, and won't send you a new one for four days (remember those commercials they used to run with the couple traveling and AmEx is there to save their butts? Yeah, so do I). So they pass you around from person to person, put you on hold a few times until you are standing at the hotel desk in tears, and eventually tell your hotel "She's good. She can stay." You breathe a sigh of relief. And go to your room and immediately tell the world about that, too. 

The moral of this story? Like it or not, those marketers that haven't figured this out yet need to deal with the fact that customers have come to expect the "Make It Happen" button. We're less tolerant of mediocrity - or worse - than we used to be. Because we have channels for sharing and amplifying our discontent. And because we have every right to expect more. 

5 comments:

  1. Ah, the power of Social Media! The "Make it happen" button may be on the phone, but an even more powerful "Didn't Make it Happen" is the "update" button on Twitter.

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  2. Sue, I'm feeling a *lot* of empathy for you right now. Why should we be tolerant of this kind of bullshit? There are plenty of places that will work hard to earn our loyalty and (therefore) our praise, not to mention our tweets and posts. Buh bye, Hampton Inn: I'd like to say "I'll see you," but I won't.

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  3. Tom and Michael,

    Thanks for your comments and empathy. At Social South today, someone asked a question of @richardatdell regarding whether social media has resulted in more "whiners" about bad customer service. I don't know about you, but I don't think of it as whining...I think of it my right, and as voting with my dollars. Most of us, I think, are as quick to point out a great experience as an unacceptable one. That said, I do think that this newfound "power" has resulted in higher expectations.

    What do you think about this?

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  4. I don't see posts like this as whining at all. Social media opens the door to this type of feedback & expression.

    It has the ability to polarize. It shines light on the companies who fail to provide good service, as well as the companies who truly *are* remarkable, and always go above & beyond. Scraping by with less than stellar service just doesn't cut it anymore!

    Great meeting you this weekend...safe trip home!

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