I recently returned from an adventure to climb Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania …and just for the record, I did make it to the summit but that's a story for another day.
Post Kili, we headed to Zanzibar for some well deserved R&R.
Checking into the Fumba Beach Lodge we were greeted by a charming manager, Shamouil, who welcomed us on behalf of the owner of the hotel (now I should point out that whilst this is not a high-end resort, it is part of a chain of lodges). What followed was the best ‘hotel induction’ I have ever experienced – and over the years I have stayed in a lot of hotels around the world.
What was it that set this experience apart from all the others?
Quite simply, it was very personal. We were taken to the beach front bar, and given a welcome drink… in itself, not unusual. However, we were then asked what each of us was expecting and wanted from our stay at the hotel.
Everyone in our party talked about what they wanted to do…and it was all duly noted. We were then escorted by Shamouil (please note, not ushered on by one of his team), on a tour of the resort facilities addressing each of our individual needs in the process. We ended with a briefing on the features and facilities of our bungalows that we would call home for the next few days (facing the rolling waves just a few metres away!). As Shamouil went to leave he said; “I will now leave you to settle in – be aware of the monkeys as they like to ‘borrow’ things. If you need anything at all, please contact me directly. I will see you in the beach bar at 5pm for sunset drinks”. Cynically, I thought: Of course you will…I’ve heard that before.
We all re-grouped for lunch – the service and food was excellent. Relaxed and unfussed befitting of the environment. Our friends – unprompted – opened with: “Wow. How good was that briefing by Shamouil?”.
A wonderfully relaxed afternoon by the pool – looking out over the ocean – only interrupted by ‘tea’ at 4pm.
Arriving at the Dhow bar (made from a traditional Zanzibar boat hull) at sunset, we were in fact greeted by Shamouil. My cynicism smashed! We enjoyed a drink with him and good conversation. I commented on how good I found the experience with the check-in and how thorough the introduction to the resort was. Shamouil was humble; “It’s just what I do”, he said. He told me that he had worked in all aspects of the hotel business; starting by washing dishes, all the way up to management. Along the way, he had learned that the hotel business was “all about people” and “understanding their needs”. And that he wants everyone who stays at the Resort to have a “great experience…after all, that’s what brings them back”.
This focus on the ‘customer’ – or ‘guest’ as Shamouil preferred – was infectious. There was a management intern on ‘work experience’ and she told me that she had quickly learned from Shamouil’s example; he was ‘fanatical’ about delivering great service, she told me.
Shamouil and I chatted several times during our stay; when it came time to check out of the resort, Shamouil and his team were there to say goodbye and to thank us for staying with them. It was like leaving the home of good friends.
So, why am I telling this story?
Because, in this age of technology aided CXM, it is refreshing to receive an experience that is driven out of a genuine interest in the customer. And it’s easy to differentiate ‘genuine’ from a ‘manufactured’ experience.
As we say at The Customer Edge, it all starts with the right mind set.
Co-Founder and Director