This time of year is special. Yes, it is Christmas, and we get the opportunity to travel to see our loved ones and spend precious time with them. But what makes this time of year really special? It is ice hockey season!
Our family is nuts about ice hockey. We have been following our favorite team, the San Jose Sharks, since their inception in 1991. Whenever we travel, we try and watch the game on TV if it is at all possible.
Recently while traveling, we stayed at a Residence Inn, not too far from San Jose (we live in San Diego now, a city without an ice hockey team!). Residence Inn is a great place to stay if you need accommodation for more than one night as they have a kitchen in each room, a manager’s reception with drinks and a light dinner, and good connectivity for your laptop. This time, we arrived too late for the manager’s reception, and my husband jokingly said to the receptionist, “Aw, did we miss the beer?” Hardly batting an eye, she excused herself and went to the back room. A minute later, she brought out a beer for my husband! It was a very thoughtful gesture, and we felt very happy with Residence Inn! We proceeded to the room, planning to sit down and watch the hockey game on Fox Sports Net.
Unfortunately, Residence Inn didn’t carry that channel. Beer but no hockey. Our elation with Residence Inn faded.
Was that fair to Residence Inn? Not really. They had delivered above and beyond our expectations, but they fell short when we couldn’t watch the game we wanted to see. Is there anything Residence Inn could have done differently to make it better? Probably not. But the experience went from great to just OK by something that was not in their control.
Managing customer expectations is a difficult task. Expectations are set through many mechanisms: the brand, the staff, the experiences we have with competitors, as well as the experiences we have with other, non-competing, brands. Organizations that fall prey to performing “random acts of customer service” in their attempts to please customers can quickly end up exceeding their budget. A carefully laid-out customer strategy, along with great execution and targeted usage of customer information, will go far in consistently meeting and exceeding customer expectations.
I would still choose Residence Inn next time I travel for a long trip. I will just bring my highlight reel of Jonanthan Cheechoo’s goals last season to play on my laptop.