This is off topic (a business traveler issue) except that there are strong parallels with the important trend of wanting to make medicine more patient-centered. In my speeches I often say this isn’t very different from what other industries do – look at things from the customer’s point of view.
(In medicine a year ago this was announced (appropriately) as a big new insight by the Institute of Medicine – “a learning healthcare system is anchored on patient needs and perspectives.”)
I used to think that in the future of elder housing, Marriott might be a really good vendor someday. Not so sure, right now.
I’m staying at a Marriott, and as usual their “iBAHN(R) Wireless High-Speed Internet” sucks. (I measure speeds with the CNet bandwidth tester; this hotel’s running at 400-500, compared to for instance the Sheraton New Orleans at 2500-4,000.)
I mentioned the speed problem to the excellent woman who gave me great service at the reception desk and she said they know, they’re trying to get out of their contract with iBahn.
“But,” I said, “if Marriott knows it’s bad, why are they still charging $12.95 a day for it??”
See, if you look at anything from the customer’s point of view, you just wouldn’t do that – would not charge full price for something you know isn’t working as you advertised it. (Advertised & sold as high speed; it isn’t, and you know it.) But I’ll guarantee there’s someone at the Marriott home office who views the situation one of these ways:
- [shrug] “It’s bad, but there’s nothing we can do about it.” As I wrote in Let Patients Help, that’s a giant red flag: the person feels powerless to solve a problem.
- “Hey, it’s not our problem if the product doesn’t work as advertised – it’s the customer’s problem. If they don’t like it they don’t have to buy it.”
- “We know it’s not as advertised – we’ll take their money at full price, and give it back if they complain.”
- “Everyone knows these things aren’t as good as we advertise.”
- “So what – they don’t have any choice, right? We hope it’ll change someday, but until then, the customers don’t have any option, so we can get away with it, right?” (In past careers I’ve heard some marketing people say that, verbatim.)
Here’s the point: if you were choosing a vendor for elder housing – someone to be a partner as your abilities decline later in life (or your mother’s) – which of those explanations would you prefer from your chosen vendor? Read them again as responses to a service problem in assisted living.
Or would you say “Jeeze, I don’t want to be cared for by anyone who responds to a quality problem with any of those answers”?
It seems obvious that each those answers is looking at the situation from the company’s point of view, not the customer’s. It seems clear that they value their revenue stream more than they value their reputation.
And that’s precisely what I don’t want from a provider of medical services. Frankly, I’d rather die an honest death myself than pay a company to do a half-hearted job as long as it doesn’t hurt their bottom line.
p.s. The photo at top of this post makes a related point. I was assigned room 313. As a weary business traveler I got off the elevator, which is out of the picture to the right, and saw that I needed to turn right. I did, and after a few doors went by, realized the sign must be wrong. I went back and indeed, 313 was to the left, not the right.
Makes me wonder, is anyone paying attention there? Another great reason not to choose them for anything medical someday, IMO.
p.p.s. Later I was on the 14th floor, and again the sign was wrong, this time with room 1412, so it’s not just a “13″ thing.
p.p.p.s. There’s also a card in the room with instructions for using wired (not wireless) high speed internet. There’s no cable available. I asked about that at the desk, too, and was told “Yeah, most rooms don’t have it.”
Jeeze. Way to go, guys, being conscious of the customer experience!
Good night. :)