Friday, January 12, 2007

Raving fans and the Church of the Customer

The outdoor pool
Originally uploaded by Tidewater Muse.
I've been reading Church of the Customer blog. Great stuff.

I have a story to tell which relates to the church of the customer, raving fans, and one-to-one marketing...

Like most organizational performance consultant in the Coast Guard, I tend to favor Marriott properties. Most of us have signed up for Marriott Rewards, and we enjoy the perks of membership while we're on the road. Several years ago, one of my colleagues accrued more than 100 nights in a year at Marriott properties. That is being on the road,

I've never made it that far, but in 2005 I did go over 50 nights at Marriott properties. And, for this feat, I was awarded with gold status in their reward program.

By the middle of 2006, my travel had ratcheded back a bit, and I'd stopped traveling. With Jack's birth and few changes at work, I was at home rather than on the road. Wasn't I surprised when I received this email:
As a valued Gold Elite member of the Marriott Rewards program, we value your business as well as your opinion. Our records indicated that your stay pattern has changed with us. If there is anything that we can do to better meet your needs or improve the program for you, please feel free to call us at your convenience at 1-800-442-XXXX. We hope to here from you soon.

Thank you,

Marriott Rewards
Wow. They track that stuff? And then they follow up? What's the world coming to?

Being the sometimes polite individual I am, I replied, telling Ms. Heather
Indeed, my stay pattern has changed. Thanks for noticing; I'm amazed. And, no, it was nothing to do with Marriott; I love all the Marriott hotels.

What has changed is that I've been traveling less the last six months.
Between a new son and some slight changes in my job, I haven't been on the road as much. Sadly, this means that I've lost my Gold status starting in January. The good news is that I think I'll be back on the road, more, starting in January, also.

I wish you a wonderful and joyful holiday season.

Thanks for looking out for me.
I thought that was the end of it. Then, yesterday, I opened this:
Sorry for the delayed response. Congratulations on the new baby! As a valued guest in our hotels, I have extended your Gold status until January 2008.

Have a Happy New Year!
Well, if they didn't have my hooked before, they do now.

And, yes, even before, I recommended the Marriott family of hotels. Aside from everything else, I've always felt welcomed and cared for, and that counts for a lot.

Aside from encouraging everyone to use the Marriott brand, the message for all of us is clear:

1. Know your customers.

2. Segment your customers.

3. Know, and act on, your customer's needs.

4. Find ways to "excite and delight" your customers. You will continually need to raise the bar.

There's something here for all of us, no matter what our job. All of us produce something and have customers.

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