Laura Petrolino

Three Ways to Improve Customer Experience Today

By: Laura Petrolino | September 21, 2015 | 
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Three Ways to Improve Customer Experience TodayBy Laura Petrolino

What is it about a hotel pool that makes it so exciting?

A bit of chlorine and dug out cement logically shouldn’t improve customer experience..yet oddly it does.

I remember being ridiculously pumped as a kid about staying at a hotel and playing in the pool.

And guess what?

That still happens!

I bring a swimsuit on every trip—even if I know good and well I’ll have no time to play in the pool—simply because the hope I will is exciting enough to not chance missing out on a few spare minutes where I can take a dip.

When I find out I’m staying at a hotel that doesn’t have a pool, I automatically feel bummed and ripped off.

EVEN IF I KNOW I WOULD’T HAVE TIME TO PLAY IN THE POOL IN THE FIRST PLACE.

This really makes no sense. I mean, I’ve lived in apartment complexes with pools (pools I swam in every night). Pools much better than many a hotel pool—and I never got that same little thrill.

Customer Experience is Created through Stories

Scenarios like this are often the case when it comes to what might make or break a customer experience. An organization will improve customer experience when it creates opportunities for customers to tell stories related to who they are or what they do.

A pool is part of a hotel’s story. For me, it probably goes back to great memories of playing in hotel pools. Who knows? But it’s a story I connect to, one that’s relevant to me.

While for me, this story might be a pool (although there are other things at hotels that get me excited as well—jumping on beds, lots of pillows, awesome hotel lotion and shampoo, room service—one might say I’m easily excited, that’s another story), for someone else it’s a restaurant, or a mint on their pillow, maybe even a complimentary robe.

The point is we all have stories that resonate, as an organization you improve customer experience when you help connect your business to those stories.

There are many ways you can do this, but today I’m going to focus on three:

Improve Customer Experience through Storytelling

Every organization has stories which people can connect to and will improve customer experience—both employee and customer stories.

So how do you figure out what stories to tell? Where do you find these stories?

In Spin Sucks (the book) and the accompanying workbook (which you can download HERE), Gini Dietrich takes you through important steps to find and tell your own organizational stories.

There are also great examples all around to take cues from, for example:

  • Look at non-profits. They tend to excel at storytelling, and for profit businesses can learn a lot through the ways they use stories to connect with their donors, influencers, and community at large.
  • What Hampton Inn and Suites has done with their Hamptonality Moments video series.
  • Think outside the customer testimonial box, and get creative with how you engage happy (or even not so happy) customers to share their stories.

Improve Customer Experience through Human Connection

Now, there are other ways to tell stories—such as through the action of your team.

Customer service that goes above and beyond helps improve customer experience in real time and it’s so easy to do (but so often neglected).

Back to my hotel example: This past weekend we stayed at a Residence Inn in Yonkers, New York,

While it was a nice hotel (and had a pool, as well as one of my favorite hotel toiletry sets), there was nothing particularly special about it—except for the front desk clerk when we checked in.

He was friendly, helpful, and just had a vibrant personality, which was easy to connect to. His personality alone was the extra touch which made this hotel special, memorable, and one I’ll not hesitate to come back to and go out of my way to recommend.

Customer service is not just something you do—it’s something you are.

He could have helped us in exactly the same way—provided directions, restaurant recommendations—and it wouldn’t have been notable. It was the human connection he brought to the service that make it matter.

Think about how you can create something special when it comes to the customer service you provide. This must be through a shared vision and set of values, not through mandated tactics.

Improve Customer Experience through Follow-up

Sometimes the best opportunities to improve customer experience are in the follow-up. I’ve worked with many organizations that impressed me the most after the sale or service.

Too often organizations consider the “transaction complete” once the sale has been made. The organizations the define themselves from good to great, are those who see the customer relationship as lasting much longer.

They value the follow-up and relationship after the sale to be just as—if not more—important.

Blow your customers away and improve customer experience through unique and engaged follow-up and you will turn average customers into long-term ambassadors (this also is helpful in “second chance customer service.

How have you used these three tools to improve customer experience?

About Laura Petrolino


Laura Petrolino is the chief client officer at Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She also is a weekly contributor to the award-winning PR blog, Spin Sucks. Join the Spin Sucks   community.

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