This is the first in a three-post series about recent trends and lessons-learned in customer experience.  Click here to sign-up for future posts.

Traveling often presents an opportunity to take the pulse of customer experience initiatives.  One conclusion: companies are trying to improve the customer experience and some are even succeeding.  But most have work to do.

Holiday Inn: Customer Experience Culture a Work in Progress – A Holiday Inn in San Francisco almost missed the mark.  After a terrible (and largely unfinished) breakfast I complained to the waitress who… did nothing.  On checking out I intentionally said nothing to see if the desk team would ask about my stay.  They did and the manager on duty overheard my complaint, picked up the phone and had the waitress come up front.  The waitress was not happy about being admonished publicly which the subsequent reimbursement process demonstrated.


  1. If you’re going to ask how things are, be prepared to respond appropriately.  The waitress asked but missed the opportunity to respond immediately (see this book for hints).
  2. Even if she didn’t have authority to respond, she could have found someone who did.
  3. The front desk and manager did respond but in a way that created winners and losers.  It would have been a better experience if the manager had fixed my problem and then coached the employee in private.
  4. Creating a culture focused on  positive customer experiences starts with positive employee experiences.  Remember, even teachable moments lose their impact when they pit employees against management.

The pivot point is that improving the customer experience takes time and employees with the right tools to do so.  Without them, expect frustration from the staff and customers alike.

Ever wonder why employees don’t have the tools they need to serve customers?

Customer Experience Lessons – Holiday Inn
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2 thoughts on “Customer Experience Lessons – Holiday Inn

  • 20 June 2012 at 08:02

    I believe you hit the nail on the head when saying, “Companies are trying to improve the customer experience…  But most have work to do.”  When the overall customer experience is pleasant, even in light of a bad meal that is dealt with in a caring and positive manner, it is obvious that a company ‘gets it’ and has invested the time and resources required to insure customer satisfaction.

  • 20 June 2012 at 08:16

    Thanks for your comment!  Fact is, customers place greater value from companies that can “recover” from mistakes than on those that make zero mistakes.  So it pays to be prepared to adapt to changing customer requests/needs.


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