OK, I admit I’m a customer service geek.
I get unreasonably impatient with bad service but turn into a love-struck puppy when a company really impresses me. But to do that, doesn’t just mean exceeding expectations. It’s increasingly about doing the seemingly impossible.
My wife and I are just back from holiday in Cyprus. The amazingly lovely Elysium Hotel gave us one of the best customer experiences of our lives. So this is a ‘customer service postcard’ from our holiday.
Day 1: We get to our room late. Drawing back the curtains we’re rewarded with a fabulous view of … the hotel car park. This is NOT the view we thought we’d paid for. Heather (the head receptionist) is apologetic even though we work out it’s probably a mistake by the travel agent not the hotel. She sorts out a sea-view room, offers us dinner while the bags are moved and doesn’t even mention the fact that the new room is an upgrade.
Day 2: Quite a few people have been marooned by the Icelandic volcano and the shutdown of Europe’s airspace. Today they’re finally able to leave. Lots of them are hugging the staff to say thank you and goodbye. You don’t often see that at hotels…
Day 2: Alexis, the Head Porter says “Good morning Mr. & Mrs. Kirby”. Four hundred guests are staying here and he remembers our names.
Day 3: Our room key malfunctions. My wife sits waif-like in the doorway while I go to reception. But a cleaner recognises her and lets her back into the room while I’m at reception.
Day 4: Karl, the personal trainer at the gym, stays in his own time to give us a workout. He’s a brilliant trainer too.
Day 5: Our waiter, knows where we ate two nights ago and which restaurant we’re booked into the following night. There are five different restaurants at the Elysium. Aggelos, the Restaurant Supervisor tells me he remembers what his guests drink even if they haven’t been back for a year.
Day 6: It’s our last night. At the manager’s drinks party Aggelos, the Restaurant Supervisor, asks how our stay was. We’re honestly and glowingly complementary … three hours later a box of chocolates is sent up to our room to thank us for our comments.
Staying at the Elysium left me with four thoughts about customer service:
- Processes, journey mapping and experience design are necessary but not sufficient.
- People need to be so highly trained, that they’re allowed to be themselves.
- Everyone does customer service. At the Elysium the cleaners are better at customer service than some hotels’ front-of-house staff.
- Memory is one of the hotel’s service signatures. I don’t care that some of it is done with a CRM system. It gives the impression of a magic trick. Every five star hotel is good. So only something that seems impossible is really going to impress.
My only complaint about the hotel: it’s so good, it stops me from seeing the rest of world.