– Thoughts on Strategy and Management

Examples on how to make customers happy

We experienced some examples of excellent customer relationship management during our vacation on Majorca last week. The funny thing is, that most of these experiences probably were not even intended to be something like “superior customer service” or “activities to increase customer loyalty”. To fully understand our “customer experiences” you need to know that we are repeat visitors to Majorca – same hotel for the fifth year, same care rental for several years and we have our favorite places to eat.

This is what happened:
We rented our car at Vanrell, a local car rental. The don’t have an office at the airport in Palma, but they have an airport service. This works in the way that somebody brings you the car to the airport, we meet at the public Meeting point there, we sign the contract and he hands us over the keys. Normally, he would than lead us to the car, which is parked at the public airport parking. This time the guy simply said “Hey, I know you from last year. Here is the key. You know where the car is.” It was 8 in the morning and this guy had recognized us! What a welcome!
As every year, we were totally happy with Vanrell: airport delivery was in time, the car was fairly new and in an excellent condition, we got the car we wanted (The Peugeot 206 cc is a great fun car for this purpose).

Then we went to the hotel. We stayed at Viva Blue of Viva Group for the fifth year now.

On our way to this hotel I remembered a marketing lecture about customer relationships from my MBA course. Professor Adrian Sergeant told us a little story for illustration. I forgot the details but it was about a cruise tour operator. An elderly lady had been booking cruises on one and the same ship for more than twenty years. This lady was their most loyal and most profitable customer but nobody at the tour operator new about her. They did not give her a special welcome or took care that she would get a nice cabin.
Well, we did not expect any special welcome. However, when we booked the room via Viva’s online form, we left a not that we would prefer a room with a backward view, because from there you have a nice view directly at the natural park S’Alburfera. Last year, this had worked well. To our great pleasure, it also worked this year. We got a room with a great view on the top floor. More than that – when we came back to our room from dinner at the first evening we found there a card with welcome greetings from the hotel management, a basked with fruits and a bottle of Champaign. Well, obviously, Viva Group knows their customers better than Adrian’s cruise operator.

On the next day we had another fixed item on our agenda for every trip to Majorca. There is a small takeaway that makes the best Crêpes I know. We have been regular customers there since we were on Majorca for the first time back in 1995. Since than, there has always been the same guy at the takeaway, who makes these delicious Crêpes. Nevertheless, it was a nice surprise that he gave us a warm smile and said “Hello again”.

All these things made us feel like coming back home. But what do they tell us about customer relationship management?
Non of our great experiences had required heavy investments, major projects or initiatives from the businesses. Our vendors / service providers just did what they always did and thus exactly met what we wanted. They provided a good reliable service in a consistent quality and in a friendly manner. Non of them tried to reinvent himself every few years, to add new features which are intended to add value for the customer (Your hotel package costs 50 Euros more this time, but we have included a free super special VIP mountain bike-tour all around the island), or to improve the product (We don’t offer the Peugeot 206 cc any more but we have wonderful Ferraris now). They simply provided exactly the product or service I wanted, not less and not more. By doing so they have been generating repeat business for several years now and if nothing odd happens, I will do business with all of them again next year.

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