Earn Your GED- Find Success Tomorrow

Omni Hotel San FranciscoNo, not your General Equivalent Degree. The GED to which I refer is “guest experience design.” What the heck am I talking about? I’ll tell you.

Old words: customer service.

New words: guest experience.

Disney, where I am this week, has a concept called a Moment of Truth. A moment of truth is “any time a guest comes into contact with any aspect of a business, however remote, is an opportunity to form an impression.” Note that it’s “an impression.” It can be good; it can be bad.

Why “guest?” Because guest is much more hospitable than “customer.” What “experience?” Because experience covers so much more than “service.” Service is important, but there are many other parts of the experience than just that.

Can you see how that opens up the game? Can you see how this position, this mindset gives you so much more to work with? Let’s just walk through it a bit, using a few examples: a hotel and then a small publishing company.

Guest Experience for a Hotel

Let’s break out the different phases of a hotel experience:

  • Prospecting – guest wants a place to stay.
  • Research – guest compares information for selection.
  • Purchase – guest pays for a room.
  • Arrival – guest reaches the facility.
  • Checkin – guest secures room.
  • Entry – guest steps into the room.
  • Inhabitation – guest’s stay at the facility.
  • Error handling – anything that goes wrong.
  • Checkout – guest leaves the facility.
  • Aftermath – any contact with guest thereafter.

That’s pretty much all of it, right? Now, how many ways could you brainstorm to make this better, if I put you in charge of guest experience design?

You’d start at prospecting, of course, because this is where you’d find new ways to share with your guest why you’re the right choice. You’d use listening tools to find potential guests talking about traveling to the locale where you have a hotel. You’d think of ways to make that prospecting experience better.

Walking through it, you can just see it. How would you improve the guest’s experience at check-in? What could you do to improve the “inhabitation” stage? What else?

It feels obvious. But is that just me?

Guest Experience for a Publisher

Again, let’s break down the components of the experience.

  • Prospecting – guest wants information/content.
  • Research – guest investigates possible sources.
  • Purchase – guest pays for products (services?)
  • Consumption – guest absorbs the information.
  • Aftermath – any contact with guest thereafter.

Now, with publishing, depending on what kind it is, might have more than one kind of “guest.” If it’s a magazine, advertising sales might be another kind of guest experience. Finding authors/creators is another type of guest experience. We’d have to add other components. But you can do that without me having to type it all.

What could you do to design a better “purchase” experience, for instance? We sell magazines as annual subscriptions, and we sell books as a single unit purchase. Why couldn’t someone subscribe to a book? What would that experience be like?

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  • http://www.samdiener.com Sam Diener

    Interesting and well written post Chris. I am not exactly sure completely how to respond to this post as I am not entirely sure what you are asking. But I think I get where you are coming from.

    I honestly think guest and customer are synonymous semantically. However, where it really depends is what your “guest” or “customer” service provider feels. Because, no matter how the organization WANTS their people to feel about their guests/customers, it doesn't matter until that filters down to the actual customer service provider.

    Keep up the great work.

    Sam Diener

  • http://www.samdiener.com Sam Diener

    Also, there are some companies that do the customer/guest experience thing extremely well. They are ranked somewhere, I believe in Business week.

    When I worked for Enterprise Rent-A-Car (which was like 10 or so on the list), the customer service provided was almost ALWAYS a function of employee morale.


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  • http://twitter.com/BrandiNGrays Brandi N. Grays

    Disney is a great company to profile and model any customer service effort after. Thtey have designed such a dynamic system and everyone seems to be vested in its success. I think that is the best way for any company to make a guest experience come to life; everyone has to be on board. This is something that I try to do in my own business and I must admit it is hard work. I think that the rewards are immense and the challenge worthwhile.

    I can definitely take these timlelines and apply them to my own business. :-)

  • http://www.netwitsthinktank.com frank barry

    It's amazing that what they started in the 50's is still working today. Must be why Disney has been so successful over the past 50 years. I love the “guest experience” mindset and approach. I was reading this and thinking to my self – MAN I need to train my self to think that way on a daily basis.

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  • http://www.tammycamp.com Tammy Camp

    I am very much up for re-branding ‘Customer Service’. It’s very easy to look at that post and be cynical; after all, what does it matter what you call it?

    But renaming something gives you the opportunity to go back to the start and define it again, sweep away pre-conceptions and subconscious links to the term.

    I think the term ‘Customer Service’ has been tarnished. It’s overflowing with negative connotations; ‘Customer Service’ is the big sign you see in supermarkets above the counter where you go when you want to complain about the toenail in your bagel; it’s where you have to call when your shipment hasn’t arrived; it’s an insanely grinning airline employee quoting company policy at you.

    Maybe in time the term ‘Guest Experience’ will have get its own tarnish, but for now it’s new and shiny, and maybe that’s where much of its value lies.

    It reminds me of that tip about changing your shampoo regularly to stop your hair getting used to one brand and it’s effects being lessened. Cue rolling of eyes; “As if that would work”.

    Thing is, the shampoo trick does actually work, and maybe changing your brand of ‘Customer Service’ will too. Maybe it is just that simple!

  • irajbates

    New terms for old names; thank you for the insight and reconnection. Useful info today.

  • http://www.wordpresswise.com/ Russell Jamieson

    Thanks for the article Chris. It really helps refocus on all aspects on the guest experience.

    I am doing some work with hotels right now so have a couple of guest experiences to add here.

    After Puchase there is the Confirmation: this is an opportunity to thank the guest for the booking and add value with travel tips, directions, transfers, where to park, car rental etc. You might just improve the guest experience by helping them have a good journey to the hotel. More generally this stage is about avoiding 'buyers regret' where you make the guest glad they made the booking by adding value.

    Error Handling – needs some rebranding as maybe Problem Solving -or Guest Satisfaction. Problems do happen and most guests are happy if you deal with them directly and honestly. Problems represent a real opportunity to understand and improve the guest experience.

    After the Checkout but before the ongoing Aftermath add a Thank You step. Thank the guest for staying, and ask for a guest survey if they have not already completed one. This is a onetime opportunity when the visit is still fresh in their mind. In other businesses it can be a good time to ask for a referral especially if they have had a really good guest experience.

    Aftermath – sounds way too negative – instead call it Follow Up.
    The Guest experience should have offered many opportunities to have the guest sign up to the Hotel Newsletter. This allows you to say in touch by email or mail so you can let the guest know about special offers. Don't forget to contact the guest with a good offer in time for the anniversary of their visit just in case it is perfectly timed to catch them in the planning cycle

  • http://purchase-order-financing.blogspot.com/ purchase order financing blog

    We just took our daughter to a Disney resort a couple months ago to meet Mickey and Minnie. For the most part, it was clear that Disney had done a good job engineering the experience at Magic Kingdom.

    And it's clear they keep improving it since so many people come back – again and again – even though the place is always full :-)


  • Mark Sidlauskas

    As an IBM strategy consultant, we developed a “moments of truth” methodology back in the 90's that formalizes the approach Chris described. Once you drill down on the moments of truth you'll see were the value lies. From there it's a straight forward process to get to the underlying capabilities and enablers necessary to deliver that value.

  • Elizabeth_H

    Good points. The use of the word “experience” reminds us that interactions with guests aren't just a single event and as one sided as the term “customer service” sounds.

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  • http://www.chicagoliposuctionsurgeons.com/ Chicago liposuction

    I loved listening to Chris, he was insightful, interesting and quite funny. Between him and Guy, I am now on Twitter… something I swore I would never do, HaHa. I follow them both as well as you ladies!Sounds like tomorrow’s talk will be informative and I’m sure everyone will learn a lot.

  • http://www.customerengagement.com CustEngagement

    Right on Chris.

    There are three moments of truth that everyone can easily “get right”.

    1. When asked a question and the answer is “I don't know” – provides an opportunity to demonstrate commitment to responsiveness and follow-up
    2. “Empathy” – when a customer has a problem, too many companies start from an assumption of “user error” – even if experience shows that to be the case 99% of the time, no one likes to hear that they're wrong before they've even explained themselves
    3. “Be Proactive” – customers don't like negative surprises. Take the sting out of bad news by being proactive – tell the customer what happened, why, how the situation will be resolved to their satisfaction and when, and what's in it for the customer

    You can read more about this at http://www.customerengagement.com/next/content/….

  • http://desaraeveit.com/ Desarae A. Veit AKA DesaraeV

    I wrote a post about that here: http://interactivemedias.blogspot.com/2010/02/t

    I think it applies to hospitality, marketing, and anyone with a customer really. Think of zappos online experience from the website chat to connecting on twitter. Comcast Cable service has comcast cares that is very helpful but there telephone customer service experience is beyond horrible.

    Starbucks and IDEO are the biggest example I heard of over, and over again in college relating to user experience design.

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    You’d start at prospecting, of course, because this is where you’d find new ways to share with your guest why you’re the right choice. You’d use listening tools to find potential guests talking about traveling to the locale where you have a hotel. You’d think of ways to make that prospecting experience better.

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    You will listen to the tools for finding potential clients about local travel where you have a hotel. You think of ways to make this experience better investigation.

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    You’d start at prospecting, of course, because this is where you’d find new ways to share with your guest why you’re the right choice. You’d use listening tools to find potential guests talking about traveling to the locale where you have a hotel. You’d think of ways to make that prospecting experience better

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    Customer service is now “Guest Experience”. That sounds great and it definitely has a lot of opportunities.

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  • Customer

    Wow. I ca’t believe people simply change customer to guest and service to experience in order to give the illusion they are treating people better or providing a better service/experience. I, myself, prefer the term customer, especially when I am paying for something. To me, the term guest refers to having company over (to my house). And I don’t charge my guests for anything. So to call me a guest when I am paying for something is a disservice to the term guest.

    The scholars and ‘experts’ are free to disagree. And they probably will since they’ve devoted their time and research to the topic.

    Guest vs Customer = Semantics.