User experience is not just about products. It needs to be prevalent in all aspects of your enterprise/brand; after sales service, your personal interactions outside and within your organization, how you treat individuals and even simple things like how you answer phone calls. Even seemingly mundane things like how you deal with the audience after you have come down the stage where you gave an exciting speech about “User Experience” has a lot to do with the user experience.. It needs to be in a person or an organization’s genes (culture).
STORY LINEby Anand Shah
During my recent trip to Asia, I stayed at Mandarin Hotel in Manila, an establishment I have known since my expat days in the early 80s. During my previous stop in Penang, one of my colleagues was curious why I chose to stay at the Mandarin as it is not in “the middle of the action” (near shopping malls, restaurants and malls) as my colleague used to say.
The last time I had been at the Mandarin was in 2008. As soon as I arrived, the guard in the driveway greeted me, “Nice to see you again.” I happened to recognize him too but wondered how he remembered me when he must meet hundreds of people every day. Plus, the last time we met was in 2008 and this most recent visit in 2013. It was a genuine exchange and one that had me walking in feeling pretty good about being back. The staff at the check in counter were new but were extremely courteous. So far so good.
Let me share two of the many great experiences that followed:
Later that evening, I went to the downstairs café for dinner. I was surprised to see a long list of North Indian dishes featured. My curiosity prevailed over my initial hesitation and I took the risk of ordering an Indian meal in Manila. The server also seemed to recognize me from my previous stay and I did recognize him too. Noticing that I was enjoying the delicious food - and with me confirming that it was real and authentic - he told me that they had a special Chef flown in from India. He also informed me that occasionally the Chef also cooked South Indian dishes for breakfast. A few minutes later, the Indian chef came to converse with me. It was a special evening. The next morning, I found that the chef had made a special and extremely difficult South Indian dish for breakfast! WOW!
It only got better. While having breakfast on the next day, I was having casual conversation with another server about benefits of vegetable juices. Now they had only fruit juices in the breakfast bar but a few minutes later, she brought me the carrot, apple and ginger juice that I was talking about. In the follow up casual conversation about vegetable juices, I mentioned about benefits of cucumber and pineapple juice. Guess what? They did not have cucumbers in their kitchen at that time but later in the day, when I went to the restaurant again, Cucumber Pineapple juice was waiting for me and soon after the man from the juice bar walked to my table to ask if it was OK. My colleague informed me that he had noticed that the original server had gone out and brought cucumber from another restaurant in the hotel or nearby market.
I have mentioned only two of the many experiences I have had with the employees of that hotel but service across any job function (room cleaning, servers, cooks, receptionists, managers, spa, front door personnel, restaurants) seemed consistently outstanding in terms of customer experience. There were smiles, genuine care, establishing personal rapport, and going the extra mile for customers. It was not just about the rooms, amenities and food but about the employees that service them.
As a normal practice, whenever I experience good service or a product, I sent the appreciation note and identify that special person or two. My dilemma this time is how do I begin to tell this story and include everyone that were so amazing to me during my stay when there were so many of them all across. Plus, I had only caught the names of only seven of them. Customer service is so ingrained and reflected across the organization that I must recognize their overall organizational culture and every one of the people that are a part of it. So just the way this article started (the title), I also end with the quote from Walt Disney.
“You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.”
This experience also reminds me of two stories about user experience I have shared previously.