Culture Shmulture?

I've been thinking about "Customer Experience Management" lately. Here at Oracle, we arguably have the most complete suite of applications for managing the customer experience across and in the context of multiple channels -- from marketing to loyalty to contact center to self-service to analytics offerings, and more. And stay tuned, because in coming months let's just say we'll have even more to talk about on this front. But that said............

Last weekend my wife and I stayed at one of the premiere hotel chains on the planet. I won't name them, but we all know the short list. It could have been the St. Regis or the Ritz Carlton or Four Seasons or Hyatt Park or....This stay, at this particular hotel, was simply outstanding. Within a chain known for providing "above and beyond" levels of service, this particular hotel, under this particular manager, exceeded expectations on so many fronts.

For example, at the Spa we mentioned to the two attendants that my wife is seven months pregnant and that we had previously had a lot of trouble conceiving. We then went to our room. Ten minutes later we heard a knock at the door and received a plate of chocolate covered strawberries with a heartfelt note and an inspiring quote, signed by the two spa attendees.

The following day we arranged to have a bellhop drive us to the beach. Although they had a pre-arranged beach shuttle service with time limits, etc., he greeted us by saying, "I'm yours for the day until 4 p.m. Whatever you want to do is fine by me, as long as it's legal!"

The morning that we left we arranged to have a taxi drive us to the airport--a nearly 40 mile drive. What showed up was a private coach complete with navy blue suited driver dude. And we were charged the taxi fare price.

And there were many other awesome exchanges I won't mention here, although I did email the GM of this hotel two nights ago and expressed our effusive praise and gratitude.

I'd submit that this hotel chain would have a definitive advantage using even more Oracle software to manage and optimize its customer interactions (yes, they are a customer). But WITHOUT the culture--that management team--and that instillation of aligned values across all employees of exemplifying 'the golden rule,' I wonder how much technology really matters in providing a distinctively positive and memorable customer experience.

Lest you think I'm alone in these pontifications, have you read Paul Greenberg's blog lately? Have you seen one of his most recent posts? Now this SPECIFIC post is NOT about customer service per se. But it is about people. So yes, please think long and hard about the technology you seek to deploy. But never forget who will be interacting with your systems, and your customers.

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