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Delightfully Engaging Customers.
By Vijay Dandapani ~ Hotelier's outlook on NYC, travel and the industry
Tuesday, 7th January 2014

The Harvard Business Review's blog has a recent post on the 'Secret to Delighting Customers' that attempts to 'what motivates employees to go above and beyond the call of duty to provide a great customer experience'.

Without suggesting that dazzling and over-the-top customer service, a frequent suggestion by some "experts", is a requirement to retain customers the authors hone in a four essentials that foster customer loyalty.

C-suite occupants must listen to frontline employees and act on their feedback to ensure customer concerns get addressed quickly and effectively. For large organizations of over 100 employees oftentimes establishing the right mechanism to listen to their front line staff is often a bigger hurdle than any real intent to create walls around leadership.

Next up they suggest that in order to "get friendly service, hire friendly people". They note that Jetblue recruits "frontline staff with a natural service bent" by using group interviews through which they observe how "applicants interact with one another".  This "enables hiring managers to assess their communication and people skills to an extent that wouldn’t be possible in a one-to-one setting." More importantly,  "having hired people with the right attitudes, leaders need to ensure they reinforce the behaviors they want to see."

HBR suggests "leading companies define their “common purpose”: a succinct explanation of the intended customer experience that resonates at an emotional level. When people are set clear expectations and trusted to do their jobs, they feel valued and empowered.They choose to go that extra mile through passion, not compliance."

Lastly, the authors suggest "giving frontline employees responsibility and autonomy inspires them to do whatever they can to improve the customer experience. When they see a problem, they fix it without waiting to be asked." 

Real life examples embodying the foregoing abound with Disney being a notable example that consistently delivers profits as a result of it. Lesser known examples in the budget sphere is the Indian no-frills airline IndiGo. The company is rennowned for ontime arrivals and smartly turned out and responsive staff but anyone who has flown them quickly discovers how on site employees "take charge" to ensure a timely departure from the gate.

As a result, in an industry and, in particular, in a country known for red-ink the airline has turned enviable profits almost since its inception a few years ago. It is an example even curmudgeonly RyanAir seems to be veering around to with its recent launch of a charm offensive that resulted in a Christmas story where the erstwhile grinch stepped in to get a stranded mother of sick twins home for Christmas.

Vijay is Chief Operating Officer and part-founder of Apple Core Hotels- a chain of 5 midtown Manhattan hotels offering value and comfort in the heart of the city. Member of the board of Directors - Hotel Association of New York.

Read Vijay's blog HERE

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