The Impersonal Touch is the X Factor


X the band


We don’t do business with companies.

We do business with people.

In this era of hi-tech, we also want hi-touch.  We want to be treated like people, first and foremost.

Last Thursday night, I spent the night in NYC on a business trip.  The hotel I stayed at is part of a national chain. Their properties, whether in New York, Cedar Rapids, or San Diego, have similar physical layouts.  Some my visits have been delightful.  Some have been terrible.

The tangible physical properties–rooms, beds, elevators—are fairly constant from place to place.  The wildcard variable is the service experience.    A few times the service has been downright amazing.  Mostly it’s bland and forgettable, and occasionally it’s lousy.    The service is the X Factor.

Last week in New York could be best defined as generically blah.   Nothing outstanding, no sense of true hospitality.

When I got home, I received an email from the General Manager.  It opened:

Dear Valued Guest,

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for staying at the New York ________.  Your patronage and loyalty to our hotel is truly appreciated. I hope you enjoyed your stay with us and come back to visit next month when X will be in town!

At the New York _____, guest satisfaction is our primary goal. All of our associates strive to provide each of our guests the utmost personal attention and care.

Dear Valued Guest?   Really?  One of the biggest hotel chains in the world can’t afford an IT program that can personalize their email salutations?   One point in the minus column.

When X will be in town?  This one had me stumped.  Did the GM mean the 70’s/80’s punk band X from Los Angeles?

Or was it X as in “template holder….insert something important later before you send to actual live clients who read this?”  Another minus, but an intriguing one.

My curiosity got the best of me.   I replied to the GM:

Thanks for the follow up email.  In it,  you write, “come and visit when X is in town”.  Who is X?

To his credit, I got the following reply within 12 hours:

I do apologize it was a typo.  The next biggest events in the area will be the NCAA Tournament and 50 Shades of Gray the Musical starts.

Not exactly a typo.  His way of saying we made a mistake.

The irony is that the “typo”  is in a form letter–sent to hundreds of guests.  All of us got the same invite– to come back when X is in town.

All in all, a rather impersonal, unmemorable experience.

What systems have you laid down to ensure your customers are getting the personal touch?



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