I recently time-traveled to the 1950s on a giant cruise
liner. Don’t worry–I haven’t become
delusional. I’ve just been crusin’.
My husband, George, and I just returned from our first ever
cruise (in our case to New England and Canada on board the Celebrity
Summit) and in many ways it was like going back in time. There was formal
dining. Dress up nights. Slow dancing. Old-fashioned library books. Variety
shows. Eat-till-you drop cholesterol-laden meal. A doo-wop band. Lily white audiences of traditional couples. Lectures by professors. And the old standby bingo. Of course there
were some au courant touches, including a computer room filled with spanking
new Macs (all for sale mind you) and a talk on Facebook and digital cameras. But
the overarching feel was oh so safe, secure and white picket fence–yes, even
All that was missing was an ice cream social and Lassie. Oh,
did I mention the midnight dessert night, a before-bed orgy of sugar and
chocolate that we somehow passed up?
And can I fess up? George and I had a blast. It was all so relaxing, and even romantic, since the only thing we had to do was show up and enjoy.
The cruise’s secret to its success is that it
provides a transformative experience making you feel like you’ve been
transported to a nicer, easier time, where everyone may not be above average,
but certainly friendly. The cruise’s staff with a touted ratio of nearly one
staff person for every two passengers outdoes itself in saying “hello” and
being friendly with guests. And that in turn seems to encourage everyone to put
on their best manners.
Yet while it was old-fashioned, it was also good marketing.
Marketing in fact that is now ironically being touted as new. We’re talking
about what’s called CEM for Customer Experience Marketing. A recent article by
Theodore Kinni in strategy + business defines it as the ultimate purpose of
marketing, which he says is creating a valuable customer experience.
He goes on to detail what goes into a customer experience.
is the total value proposition provided to a customer, including the actual
product, and all interactions with the customer–pre-sale, at point of sale
and post-sale. This value includes experience attributes such as on-time
delivery and the quality of products, as well as the experience attitudes, such
as the emotional engagement created during interaction with customers.”
Given that definition, our cruise seemed to be doing just
All of which brings me back to today’s workaday work. So many
companies in my experience ignore the customer experience. I’m guilty of that myself.
Does it make sense for companies to have a formal customer
experience policy and deliver it? By this, I don’t mean larding with hyperbole and the usual shibboleths about caring about the customer. But doing
something that is actionable? I bet Celebrity Cruises for example requires all its
staff to greet its guest every time it sees someone. It’s those little things
of course that ultimately affect the customer experience.
What do you think about creating customer experiences? Any
stories you can share? I’d love to hear from you.
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