Most customer experience professionals would rather invest time in creating an amazing experience, than spend time recovering from ill-designed or poorly executed customer journeys. All the good intentions in the world yield very little if the journey leads to the wrong destination.  Let me explain…

I ran across a situation recently with IHG where they (a) got lucky they didn’t step on a landmine, (b) did a passable recovery job, but (c) missed an opportunity to excel. The situation reminded me that the distance between horrendous and truly exceptional is often quite short.


In the scenario, guests reserved rooms well in advance of an event in a hotel that was under construction. As the event date crept closer and closer, the completion of the hotel slipped further and further. Happily, the guests discovered the problem before the event and contacted IHG.

  • The passable recovery job – To its credit, IHG recognized the problem, provided reservations at a nearby alternative, and even provided a small room discount.
  • The landmine – The worst case for IHG would have been if the guest had (a) not been notified the hotel was unfinished, (b) showed up anyway, and (c) had no available room substitutes (either within the IHG brand, or elsewhere).

By implementing one small process change, IHG could avoid this landmine and close the gap between “pretty good” and “exceptional.”  Here’s how:

  • The missed opportunity – IHG can truly differentiate themselves by proactively spotting the problem and notifying customers. What should have happened is that the guest reservations for future dates should have been mapped to the hotel’s completion date.  Each time the completion date slipped IHG should have had a new list of customers who were going to arrive at an unfinished hotel. By contacting those customers, they could them implement their “passable recovery” plan. This process would eliminate unnecessary and unwelcome surprises and provide alternatives before the customer even knew one was needed.

Where IHG fell short is that their customer journey is aligned to the wrong destination – taking reservations. Somehow, in the customer journey, IHG’s capacity to provide lodging got lost in an effort to fulfill reservations.

The pivot point is to ensure the journey you create and deliver matches the destination/service the customer wants. People value a solid reservation system, but when that system doesn’t support a room, your journey hits a dead end.  More on this from our friends at Seinfeld.

Bridging the Gap between Terrible and Excellent Customer Experiences
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