Your customer experience is your customer experience, dummy!

Your customer experience is your customer experience, dummy!

What the customer experiences when dealing or buying from you is the definition of your brand, your company and your product, so why do so many people have an issue getting their heads around this?

One of the first industries to have customer experience exposed on social media and dissected and at times destroyed is the travel and hospitality industry. We hold our investment in our downtime, holidays and business trips to heart.

The customer experience, relayed in the public forum of social media and online reviews, shines a spotlight and can make or break a business. Many of us now refer to sites like TripAdvisor when we consider spending our money on a holiday.

One company that has learnt about the power of social media and its effect on customer perceptions is The Ritz-Carlton.

The hotel chain recognized the change brought about by the online revolution that gave customers the opportunity to vent, both good and bad thoughts, about their holiday destinations and experiences. It worked hard to engage and focus its staff on making sure every customer experience was as good as it could possibly be, in the realization that social media could now undo the reputation of a brand in the space of 140 tweeted characters.

The Ritz-Carlton management team understood that relationships are not about money or profit and rely on a great strategy to engage employees and repeat customers and, consequently, they get the results on the bottom line.

Employees are trained to routinely to solve problems and own them until they are resolved. They work hard to anticipate customer needs and employees are empowered with up to $2000 to resolve any customer concern.

It is the strategy that has delivered growth and repeat business in a hard to win market, there maybe great revenues too, BUT these are win-win, with happy customers and happy staff.

In the world of public opinion on social media forums, this is a standout case study.

The disconnect between the business, its culture, its people, the marketing department and the delivery guys in a business never fails to astound me. If the front line can’t deliver, you never deliver. If the guys leading the business are bad leaders, you never win. No matter what your marketing says, it is always going to be about advocacy and recommendation, and that can only be driven from experience, not marketing spiel.

In an age where we can express our disappointments so quickly and easily, share our “experiences” with the world, tell our stories, I am still amazed so many companies don’t understand that authentic experience will always win out over marketing gloss.

Companies like the Ritz-Carlton take the power of social media seriously and your business should too if you want to see bottom line growth, happy customers and happy staff.

Fi Bendall is the managing director of Bendalls Group, a team of highly trained digital specialists, i-media subject matter experts and developers.

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