by guest contributor Michael Harrison
I admit to being an online shopper and I started this article thinking about the GST on imported goods debate.
Australian retailers contend that shoppers paying GST will level the playing field. Personally I think they are missing the point. I buy online for convenience when everything else is equal and when the retailer chooses to offer ‘normal’ or sub-standard service. Saving a few dollars is nice but if the “experience” I received from buying locally was remarkable, that’s where I would buy.
Two good examples of a remarkable experience are Apple and Nespresso. Both offer “something extra” at their retail outlets and both have a strong online presence. You only need to visit their shops to see why they are usually full.
I was mulling this over while I was staying at a hotel recently. I have stayed there before and it is a good hotel. Tripadviser® ratings show that most guests agree it offers good amenities and good value.
There was a minor issue with my booking. Even though I provided my frequent guest number it linked to someone else’s profile. It was fixed when I emailed the hotel pointing out the error.
The check-in service was pretty ‘normal’ but when I got the room my asthmatic wife immediately noticed that a previous guest had smoked in the room. They moved us to another room so no harm was done. Another ‘normal’ hotel experience!
On the Saturday night we went to the hotel restaurant for dinner and were told that it was fully booked for a function but we could get room service. We returned to our room and dialled guest services, only to be asked to “hold”. After more than three minutes I hung up and phoned back. This time the phone didn’t answer at all – it was simply placed on hold. That happened twice more before I went to the front desk, by then aggravated, and eventually got served.
Would I talk about this service? No, it was pretty ‘normal’.
What could have happened?
On check-in I could have been told that the restaurant was booked out on Saturday night and been given a list of local restaurants that were within walking distance. That way I could have done some research and made a booking.
When I went to the hotel restaurant I could have been given the nearby restaurant list with an offer to make a phone booking for me. It could also have been explained that I would still get my frequent guest discount if I chose to order from room service.
When I phoned guest services the operator could have said something like “Mr Harrison, if it’s not urgent can I call you back in a few minutes. I’m on my own and it’s really busy at present”. That way if I had needed urgent medical attention I could have said something.
Any of those responses would have made me feel like a valued guest and got me talking in a positive way about my experience.
Like the retailers, the hotel didn’t do anything wrong. They provided ‘normal’ service. They also didn’t give me any reason to recommend them.
Is your service ‘normal’ or do you look for ways to delight your customers?