Radisson Still Owes Me a Pair of Pants (and other insights into customer experience)

Every year as Milestone employees, we fly back to the mothership in Eden Prairie, MN for an annual sales and product update meeting.  The kicker? This always takes place in Decem-brrrr or January.  Given this fact, the meeting is affectionately called Freezing at the Lakes.

This year in January we made the pilgrimage and stayed at a new hotel attached to the massive Mall of America, the Radisson Blu.  At the end of a long day of meetings, bus rides, and dinner and team building, I returned to my room.  Apparently when housekeeping had straightened up my room, they moved my suitcase from the bed, to the suitcase stand in the room.  The problem with this was that the room was dark when I entered and the suitcase stand was not a small wooden collapsible piece, but instead was built into the wall.  When extended out, it protruded into the room, creating a sharp corner at thigh height, which in the dark, I slashed my pants and leg on upon entry.

PantsLeg

I didn’t mention it the next day on check out, but as a day or two went by, and people kept commenting on my leg, I felt compelled to say something, given my room had basically been rearranged while I was out.  I sent Radisson an email explaining the situation and attached the above pics.  Nothing.  Then I pinged them on social media.  Nothing, Then I emailed them again.  Still nothing.

I used to spend a great deal of effort trying to get the attention of companies like this and then coaching them on what I believe proper customer service entails.  However, today the experiences have become so prevalent that I usually just decide to vote with my wallet.  I most likely will never hear from Radisson and I will never stay there again either.  It’s my only recourse.

I have had similar experiences with OC Donut Bar, the Sheraton Gateway Airport Hotel by LAX, Red Diamond, and quite a few others.  Just three more on the AV Phenom list of companies to avoid.

For those of you that think this is an anomaly, I offer this fact from a Forrester study in 2012:

80% of companies say they deliver superior customer service. However, only 8% of people think these same companies deliver customer service worthy of a superior rating. Only 37% of brands received good/excellent customer experience ratings.

This illustrates that there is a huge disconnect between many companies’ perceptions of the experience they are providing and the actual experiences the customers are having.

I challenge us to look at our own businesses and evaluate if we ourselves may be falling into this trap at times.  

InfoComm’s new focus on “exceptional experiences” may just be one indicator that the experiences we provide have not consistently been exceptional in the past.  I remember being at the round table event where Duffy Wilbert announced the new APEx program and hearing the audible gasp of the audience when he shared that a customer evaulation would be part of the process.  No one liked that idea it seemed, (other than me that is) and it showed me that maybe we are aware that our impression of a job well done and our customer’s ideas on the same don’t always align.  I took a little heat from a couple industry vets last week for a blog that suggested that as well.

For those that are still shaking your heads, ask yourself if you have a current customer who puts you back out to bid on their next project with no real leg up in winning the next one.  Why would that be?  Or do you ever look down at your phone to see a previous client’s name and number and always let it go to voice mail first to make sure there isn’t a problem?

Our own perceptions about how good we are at our business mean nothing if they do not align with the customer’s perception of the same thing.  We can choose to ignore complaints and not engage with customers who don’t see things the same way we do.  That’s our prerogative.  Or we can look at the times we failed to reach that 100% satisfaction and make adjustments to help assure we do in the future.

“Remember that it is not what you think you know that is important. It is what your customers think that matters. Good service has nothing to do with what the provider of services believes it to be, unless these beliefs coincide with the attitudes of customers.”