Simple Gestures = Big Rewards

by Paul D'Alessandro on December 8, 2009

Creative Commons License photo credit: KayVee.INC

A good friend of mine recently shared the story below.  I think it epitomizes the potential of great customer experiences.  No rocket science here, just someone doing what felt instinctually right at a given moment.  The simple question is why don’t more people get it?  Are we so driven by near term results that we lose sight of long term opportunity?  This is organizational behavior 101 and as business leaders the onus is on us to create teams that learn to do the right thing.  Reward this kind of behavior by calling out the good deed of the individual. This may not be the same as putting a bonus in their hand today, but I assure you, it will put money in their pocket and everyone else’s tomorrow.

Each year my family goes to Cleveland over holidays to visit my mom.  Sometimes we go twice a year.  We stay in an old Cleveland hotel downtown because our kids would destroy my Mom’s small condo.  The hotel we stay in is pretty nice and we get a big suite overlooking a public square.  It has a pool, big old marble lobby, etc.  Kids love the place.  Last time we were back, we had breakfast at the Ritz, which is in the same complex as the hotel we frequent.  After breakfast we were in the Ritz lobby, and the property manager spotted me and the kids and walked over to talk.  We chatted for a few minutes and somehow he must have surmised that I was a reasonably seasoned traveler and he told my kids to wait for him.  He walked away then came back with a wagon full of toys.  He let each kid pick a toy out of the wagon.  We weren’t even guests there, all we did was have breakfast at the Ritz!  I told him that next time we were back in town we would stay at the Ritz.  Sure enough, for this holiday visit back we booked a big suite for 6 days at the Ritz.  So for the price of a few nice toys, the manager converted a stay that will generate a few thousand bucks in room charges, meals, and parking.  If it works out we may switch permanently.  All in all, it was a great tactic at an impromptu touchpoint, based on very little structured data.  But the manager had the power and smarts to do something clever and it really paid off.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jason December 8, 2009 at 4:16 pm

So, was the manager motivated by altruism or was he simply savvy enough to read the cues from your friend and act on an opportunity. The beauty of the scenario and that gesture is reading his motivation is a subjective exercise. It doesn’t matter what the why is, only it’s impact is important. Great story!

Paul D'Alessandro December 8, 2009 at 6:22 pm

What I didn’t mention in the post is that my friend explained that they were merely visiting the restaurant and were not guests of the hotel. Therefore I default to altruism and give the guy credit for a good deed done…

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