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Mr. or Ms. Hampton Inn CEO:
don't really know me, but back in 1996 when the Hampton Inn manager in
Greenville, Mississippi asked me if I would like coffee in the morning, and
at what time would I like coffee
know this is way out of order, but by the way, thank you for sending me my
shiny Hilton Honors card last year. Confidentially,
you didn't really have to do that because I was loyal without the card,
which, in a backwards sort of way, brings me to the point of my letter and
of the Information Systems executives I call on have been talking about
something called CRM, or Customer Relationship Management. They're not exactly sure what it is, but I tell them heck,
that's OK, nobody else does either, and that's one reason why NCR decided to
fund the CRM Research Center at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke
University to the
whole idea of CRM (if you don't mind I'm just going to call it loyalty) is
that since Americans aren't reproducing Americans like they use to, it's
very important for businesses to not only get more money out of each shopper
transaction, but to go all out to create a loyal customer; one that feels
pulled to the offering, if you know what I mean.
smart as you are, I know that you aren't falling for that old 1980's trap
where companies foolishly thought that by focusing on "customer
satisfaction," customers would appreciate the good service so much they
wouldn't shop anywhere else. Back
then many well-meaning executives confused satisfaction and quality, with
loyalty. Now I know that
quality is all well and good, but I also know that many other companies make
a quality cup of coffee but try telling that to one of those loyal
Starbuck's fanatics. They might
wallop you with a sack of black beans or worse, try to wipe the smirk off
your face with a low-fat raspberry muffin.
some powerfully scary data, isn't it?
the way I figure it, many companies attempt to separate themselves from the
pack by offering free meals, free plane tickets, and free room-nights for
frequent customers, and all of that is well and good, but now that I have
ten cards in my wallet, I want to scream "what next?"
say they better study the Kano Model.
Kano Model, which is named for a Japanese quality expert, recognizes that
customers experience value at three dimensions-the basic, the expected, and
the unanticipated. Unanticipated value is delivered when companies provide
well above and beyond what the customer expects. Only in operating in the
unanticipated realm, so the Kano Model goes,
that's the whole point to my letter.
careful what you do with CRM, won't you?
I know companies jump into CRM like it's a one-time project.
Well, it's not. This whole idea takes a company effort to pull-off.
Lawrence A. Crosby and Sheree L. Johnson, writing for the American
Marketing Association, Marketing Management, put it as follows:
isn't just about collecting, processing, and deploying customer information.
It is about serving customers in a fundamentally improved way.
CRM needs to be about business
suppose some day, by using my customer number and collecting my preferences,
you will figure a way to turn on ESPN when my key hits the lock, my wake up
call will be from Enya instead of a computer voice, my in-room coffee will
be Seattle's Best, and instructions to the nearest Irish pub will be folded
in the morning sports section. But
we all know that it will be just a matter of time before your competition
has all of that, too.
wish I had kept the name of that fellow who delivered that coffee to me in
Greenville, Mississippi. I've
never forgotten him.
do have one last favor to ask, and it's kind of embarrassing.
If you would, please see to it that the enclosed check for $79.63
gets credited to the Hampton Inn in Fort Smith, Arkansas.
Just once, I decided to test the "and your satisfaction is
always 100% guaranteed," line, even though I wasn't really peeved, and
it worked. Every employee with
your company says that line with such conviction, and at every opportunity
they can, that I just had to put the policy to the test.
when I started having sleepless nights, particularly when I was staying in
Hampton Inns, I dashed to Confession. When
Father Ralph told me that, "no, it wasn't enough to simply repent, you
must send the money back," I thought it best to follow his advice.
As soon as you cash this check I'm sure I'll start having blissful
sleep and pleasant dreams.
about all I have to say. Sorry
for being so long winded about this matter of loyalty, but I just felt like
clearing this wad of cold grits our of my throat by telling you how pleased
I am with Hampton Inn.
Stum and Alan Thiry, "Building Customer Loyalty," Training and
Development Journal, April 1991, 34.
F. Recihheld, "Loyalty-Based Management," Harvard Business Review,
March-April, 1993, 71.
A. Peterson and William R. Wilson, "Measuring Customer Satisfaction:
Fact and Artifact," Journal of the Academy of Marketing Sciences,
Winter 1992, 6.
Fitzpatrick is the National Sales Manager for Spartan Computer Services, and
can be reached at 1-800-866-3352, or at
or visit www.spartancomputer.com