CX Passport

The one with the housekeepers' customer insight - Mike Kuenne S2E102

January 31, 2023 Rick Denton Season 2 Episode 102
CX Passport
The one with the housekeepers' customer insight - Mike Kuenne S2E102
Show Notes Transcript

🎤Who knows the customer best? “The one with the housekeepers' customer insight” with Mike Kuenne in CX Passport Episode 102🎧 What’s in the episode?...


🤔Why does experience matter if it's "just a product"

💎A brand's place on the luxury spectrum

🧹Who has the best customer insight at a hotel?

👉The impact of expectations on experience

👣No substitute for feet on the ground

🏕️Tell stories

🥰A heartwarming story of experience delight


Hosted by Rick Denton “I believe the best meals are served outside and require a passport”


💭“Your housekeepers, your night porters, your GSRs, your guest service representatives. Those are the people who know what's going on in the hotel. And probably most of all, especially in the extended stay segment, the housekeepers, they are interacting with the guests.  They're in the guests' rooms, they truly understand what's going on.” - Mike


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Episode resources:

Kuenne Advisory: kuenneadvisory.com

Rick Denton:

You're listening to CX Passport, the show about creating great customer experiences with a dash of travel talk. Each episode we’ll talk with our guests about great CX, travel...and just like the best journeys, explore new directions we never anticipated. I'm your host Rick Denton. I believe the best meals are served outside and require a passport. Let's get going. Listeners, I want you to visualize the most luxurious travel experience you've had, or maybe one that you want to have. What does that look like? What do you see? What do you feel? Now? I want you to visualize a different experience. What if you were displaced from your home now staying at a hotel for four months or longer? Maybe it's because of something tragic, like a disaster, or something positive, like a remodel or a city move? What would you want out of that experience? What defines a great customer experience in that scenario for you? Today's guest, Mike Kuenne knows that world? Well, we want to talk about the CX lessons of the Ritz and the Waldorf. The reality is there's a massive amount of customer experience wisdom coming from brands on the other end of the luxury scale as well. Ignore those lessons at your peril. So I'm excited to hear what Mike has to share about customer experience. Mike, the owner and principal of Kuenne advisory has 25 years of experience in industry and consulting across b2b and b2c channels. His perspective includes both the hospitality space and many other industries, allowing him to bring that unique perspective to customer experience challenges. And of course, beyond business talk, you'll find Mike, the owner of some wonderful travel experiences, including Stan Athens. I'll want to explore in the show Mike? Welcome to CX passport.

Mike Kuenne:

Thanks, Rick. Thanks for having me,

Rick Denton:

Mike. It'sgonna be fun to explore that spectrum with you today. And but let's talk about you know, I mentioned you have this background in hospitality, and hospitality, it's travel, it's just a product, right? A room, a seat in a metal tube flying through the air, yet, we often look to those worlds for wisdom, and how we can find those great experiences. So why would experience matter if it's just a product?

Mike Kuenne:

Yeah, the way that I would look at it is they're not mutually exclusive. Right? If you take a look, a lot of times, they'll say, Well, something of product or service, but they can truly be both. I travel frequently, and it is at the end of the day, it's a season that you're getting from point A to point B. But you know, airlines have recognized that it's not that now you can differentiate that experience in so many different ways that if you have two other passengers on an aircraft, they could have 200 different experiences starting with their booking channel, The Stare they paid the seat, they selected the meal they chose. So they're certainly not not mutually exclusive. And is that transcends travel. Certainly, you mentioned earlier, you know, the you can have the read through the Waldorf on one end and an economy hotel on the other end. You can have a great experience in both, you can have a disappointing experience in both. And what I think it comes down to is what was your expectation going in? What was your your journey before you even started that experience, and it's outside travel as well. Last night, I was coming home from my son's wrestling tournament, and it was late. And I there's something that I wanted to eat, and I got it my wife and I went to the drive thru. And let me tell you that 930 At night, that was delicious. Spot and it was $4. And it was a great experience.

Rick Denton:

Yeah, let's unpack that a little bit. Because I chuckle about the you mentioned coming off of wrestling my daughter's in drill team. It's her senior year in high school. So we have had many of those experiences where it's the 10 o'clock at night 1030 At night. You're done with the Friday Night Lights. And yeah, water burger actually is pretty good. But then, you know, on a Friday night when I want to have a nice Martini sitting at the bar water burger does not come to mind. So you talked about its expectations. But regardless of whether it's luxurious of the Ritz, regardless of whether it's the wonderfully functional and exactly what a customer in a long stay needs at extended stay. You know, if it's not luxury, what are those factors that define a great experience?

Mike Kuenne:

Sure, I think there's there's quite a few. Certainly price is always is always one right? You know, and you can say price, you can say value, but there's a need or desire to make sure that when we go into something that meets that expert that expectation and I use that word expectation purposely because it matters.

Rick Denton:

So if it's that that view of expectations, and that's kind of what I would expect right if I expect to have a yummy tasty but quick burger versus Have a wonderfully seared and perfectly prepared medium rare fillet. I want both of those. But my expectations are set differently on how does a brand let's talk about extended stay America, how does a brand like extended sacrum America help set that expectation with the customers so that when they arrive when they are going through their experience with with their brand, that it is a delightful experience? Where does it start?

Mike Kuenne:

Sure is there's the generic answer of advertising and brand promise and all that and all that stuff, right. But in some cases, customers might not be aware of that. And one of the challenges in hospitality, especially within, you know, within hotels, is is booking channel. And there's a couple of different ways you can book a hotel, right? You can book a hotel on brand.com, right? Go to the brands, hotels website. And brands really are trying to push customers to go book on that website. Obviously, there's a financial reason for it as well, right? Because you know, there's not paying, you know, an OTA and then more control. But the other is you get to control that messaging. And that's something you lose when you go through an OTA. So if you're at and for your users, or your listeners OTA, you know, travel agencies, that would be the experience, the bookings, you know, whomever I'm assuming most folks know that. But if you go and you're searching for a hotel there, you might be clicking down that left hand side, and narrowing down saying, Okay, I want to make sure that I have a hotel that includes breakfast, right? So they go through, they go through this select that, they book it great, they're expecting breakfast when they get there. Reasonable. There's a lot of different types of breakfast. So at extended stay America, we offer what we call the Grab and Go breakfast, because an extended stay hotel, it was we had coffee, there was a muffin, there was in some locations, there was some fruit, but it was intended, just as a quick sort of grab and grow type thing. It's not, you know, full cook to order breakfast. So we were very purposeful, in our messaging on our website, and our booking journey, when you would receive a reminder, you know, prior to your stay, that would all be explained. You booked through no chair, you might not necessarily get that. And your first point of being introduced to that might be to check in while at that point. That might be a little bit too late. So you know, get back to the expectation, making sure you know, how do you communicate that especially when there's different channels,

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Rick Denton:

I think that's that's such a vital part of that experience and expectation setting is what you're the upfront aspect of it. You mentioned the grab and go and it triggers a thought there. I would imagine that that brand. And I just got back from Japan. So I stayed at the Hilton Tokyo, which is a full service a wonderful with a huge, massive breakfast as you might expect. Imagine, regardless of where you are in the luxury brands spectrum, the same thing applies of how does a brand know what their customer wants one of the places and I think in hospitality brands specifically, but it really extends to all sorts of brands, where you get the best insight as your frontline team. How do you view found the best ways to get that insight from the frontline team that might be telling you, Hey, folks are getting confused about this grab and go or if that's not the example just in general, how do you get that insight from the frontline?

Mike Kuenne:

Yeah, I appreciate it. So I'm a little old school. And so first of all, I love technology. And my background is in technology. So I love technology and using technology of thing. But but sometimes there's there's no substitute for feet on the ground and getting to know the people who are talking about hotels. We're running the hotel so that people who typically know the most of what's going on in the hotel. It might be the general manager, but it's also the general manager if they have a great relationship with their back of house team. And if Front of House Team, your housekeepers, your night porters, your CSRS, your guest service representatives. Those are the people who know what's going on in the hotel. And probably most of all, especially in the extended stay segment, the housekeepers they are interacting with the guests there in the guest room. They they truly understand what's going on. How you get that there was something that we did Extended Stay a lot of hoteliers, I'm sure do it in different ways. It's a morning crickets meeting. And it's 15 minutes. It's not scripted. But what it is, is the general manager, and all the staff that's there for that shift. Talking through the day, most important thing is, it's not omnidirectional. It's hearing from the staff as well, and creating a culture. And this is where you get into employee experience, which lends very importantly, the customer experience, creating that culture of trust, where people speak up. And you create that culture in those meetings by recognizing people's birthdays, by recognizing them in front of their peers, when a guest makes a comment about how their room was clean, guest makes a comment about how they were cared for how they felt like this was a home away from home because they know the name of their pet who is staying with them. That stuff matters. And when you create that culture, and when you have that culture, with your associates, which we call them, or your employees, that's, and they feel comfortable bringing that type of stuff up when you take that and combine it with data that you have from surveys, because termI still have value. Oh, yes, that has value. Right? Right. Social media sells value. But it's one piece of it, it's not all, but when you put it together, that's where you learn. And when I say, you know, social media or surveys have value. During the pandemic, one of the biggest pieces of insight that we received from our guests was, you know, there was this big focus of cleaning rooms, everything has to be like disinfected you know, 25 times a day, right. And we've learned as we went through the pandemic, but what we actually found is, our guests wanted us in their rooms less, they didn't want us to clean their rooms, remember, we were extended stay. So they might be staying for a longer period of time. That being able to pivot quickly, and listen to that voice of customer. Instead of focusing on what we're going to clean more, we put programs in place to exchange linen more frequently provide things to our guests, so they could have their rooms clean. And it was it was critical for us. And it really, really helped us address. You know, what our customers were asking for.

Rick Denton:

I definitely heard a lot of those stories inside the hospitality industry right Hilton came out with its Lysol cleans, how they I hope branded may not have the right word there but with Lysol to have a clean stay concept to minimize the interaction in the room. And so hearing that at extended stay America makes absolute sense, especially if and what I really liked about the story you shared there was that there was the initial thought of we should clean more, let's make sure the customer feels secure by the overzealous cleaning. And the customer told you know, I want something different. And it's that listen and act aspect of it that makes the difference. If you just looked at a score and saw that people were okay, they're satisfied or whatever, and did nothing with it. But if the act on what they told you that made all the difference. Can I ask you something you said that hit me is the idea of the housekeepers have the best insight. And I think that may be true in any company, whatever the housekeeper equivalent is in sort of an organizational hierarchy. They're probably the ones closest to the customer, but often have the least amount of voice. How have you seen companies be successful at ensuring all voices at the organizational hierarchy, especially those closest to the customer, are really getting heard.

Mike Kuenne:

There's there's mechanisms that we had internally were through a mobile app, or through company communications where people can, can submit ideas. And there's programs and recognition, you know, around that. The reason that I sort of focused on that one on one interaction is in many times in hospitality, especially in certain markets, housekeepers, room attendants, English might be a second language, they might not necessarily or technology, or that technology might not necessarily be enabled for them, they might not have that personal email address, or that. So that's where that relationship really becomes important. They have that relationship with that general manager with that front desk staff that they can share. Hey, I noticed I was talking with Mr. Jones, and he's going through a tough time, we would have a lot of patients who might stay with us that were undergoing cancer treatment, something would share that they might share that with us. And that's an opportunity for a general manager to leave a card or do something that is in the scheme of things fairly small. But just by having that interaction and knowing your guests, I mentioned you Know that the pet's name, you know, someone's been there for, you know, a month, and they leave that dog treat or something for them. Those are the things that create personal experiences. And that's where I think, you know that personalization really comes to notion. Those are the moments when you travel, those are the moments you remember.

Rick Denton:

Yeah, that's, that's really important. I'm glad that you, I'm glad we had a chance to unpack that. Especially, we all want to deliver great experiences for our customers, we all talk about understanding our customer. And then we all talk about how employee experience matters, you just describe that in a little nutshell of right, I want the employee experience to be great, I want to give them the opportunity to be able to provide their input. And I recognize that the tools and systems may not be the best way but a human connection. And so a company that has set that up and that level of trust with their employees, that will just I don't want to say automatically, but in general manifest itself in the delivery of the customer experience. I appreciate you unpacking that. Let me change it up a little bit. You had mentioned a hotel stay in Athens, that was a fantastic customer experience. I would love to know how that experience was so special. Sure.

Mike Kuenne:

And it was a great trip. It was to Athens. It was a short trip. And this was a great hotel. It's a hotel that's known for service. It's a it's a five star hotel, when I arrived, it was interesting and the words that they use when I arrived still stuck with me and it's nothing spectacular. A lot of times you might check into a hotel I welcome you know, whatever, you know, Id thanks for being platinum die, whatever, but all things that are part of the script. But you know what they said, is Mr. Kuenne, so glad to be here, you're here, we've been expecting you that the words that really resonated where we've been expecting you, and we're so glad you're here. Very personal. They looked at me in the eye when they said it, I'm like, wow, okay, it was just it was just very, very genuine. But it was the eye contact. It was a lot like you and I are talking now it was it was a conversation. It was almost as if I was visiting a friend and staying in their place. They were truly welcoming me nice. And like, well, I want to go do some exploring new stopped and visually concierge. And in stead of just saying, oh, we'll do this, do this, do this, like, well tell me how long you're here. Tell me what you'd like to see some of the types of things that you like, again, like how Sears wasn't going through his list of things that he tells everybody, he wasn't going through the list of restaurants that are giving him a little bit of maybe something when he refers them. He asked me questions. And even though a lot of the things that I had planned to do were the same. They recommend Well, you might want to do this in this order. And when you leave the museum, here's here's a little tip, don't go out this door, go out this door, because this store you can get, you can go to this place. And you'll walk through the Old City and it's something that a lot of people typically miss, because they're just trying to go from place to place, right. So that cause yours could have very quickly been done with me in two minutes. Instead, he spent 10 Witness with me, and it changed my entire, I should say an entire but it changed my experience of how I experienced that city and how I experienced that hotel.

Rick Denton:

Mike after that kind of travel, I know Athens is a long way from Charlotte, then we're talking about Athens, Greece, not Athens, Georgia. But Athens is a long way away from Charlotte. And so it can be nice to take a little rest. Now thankfully, the hotel you stayed at gave you that kind of experience and delight. But sometimes the air travel experiences and so special and it's nice to have a little break in the first class lounge. So why don't you join me here in the first class lounge. We'll move quickly here and hopefully have a little bit of fun. What is a dream travel location from your past?

Mike Kuenne:

Probably Rome, Italy. I've done a couple times both on my honeymoon and with my family and it's just an amazing city.

Rick Denton:

To find Italy coming up very often Rome doesn't always hit the favorites in folks that I've had on the show but it is an amazing city with just incredible stories and an incredible history and incredible beauty there. And incredible food, which is one of my favorite things about travel. What is thinking forward? What is a dream travel occasion you've not been to yet

Mike Kuenne:

have not been to Nabis. So looking forward to doing that with my wife some time and doing one of those Overwater Bungalows and just doing nothing so that's certainly on the list.

Rick Denton:

I mentioned this Maldives comes up quite a bit. Now what makes me jealous is because I have global guests on the show. There are plenty who have already been there because it's in sort of their neighborhood, their global neighborhood if you will, and I'm jealous of those guests. I'm with you, Mike that's on the dream travel occasion. I've not been to yet. What is a favorite thing to

Mike Kuenne:

Go back to example before it all depends, right? But I enjoy a good steak. But sometimes I just want a good slice of New York pizza. I live in Charlotte. It's hard to find that here but there's a there's a couple places that is when you want that spot. Nice. I like

Rick Denton:

I like both of those answers strongly. Now on the other side, what is the thing your parents forced you to eat but you hated as a kid?

Mike Kuenne:

Any green vegetable, and that's probably still is the still hold the same? I'll eat peas. That's about all my wife can get me to eat? Yeah, not a big vegetable guy.

Rick Denton:

Love it. I love watching guests reaction in their face the facial reactions, when that question gets asked, what is one travel item not including your phone, you will not leave home

Mike Kuenne:

Noise cancelling headphones. They're just there. Whether it's on the airplane or in the hotel, or it's just, I must happen.

Rick Denton:

Yeah, Mike, I definitely agree with you on the noise cancelling headphones there. Mike, I want to talk about how you get great experiences created and understood across an entire organization. Right? If we think about the airlines, there's an operational element to it or any industry, there's an operational element, there's a financial element, there's all these things that are roles that might feel they're not close to the customer. But they are there they have this impact on the customer. So how do you bring customer love customer story or just customer interest into those roles that they don't see themselves as customer facing?

Mike Kuenne:

There are two things reckon he said the word stories, I want to I want to build on that. So stories are important. If you if you think about even presentations, or lectures or things that you've been to the ones that resonate with me the most, or not, when someone puts up a bunch of bullet points and charts. Yeah, sometimes that matters. But it's the stories, it's the good storytellers. If you can find a good mechanism, whether it's video, or meetings, or whatever, to tell stories about the why, of what you do, and people who maybe not aren't customer facing understanding of why of what they do. I think that's, that's critical. It's, it's very easy, whether you're in finance, HR, you know, operations, sales, whatever, to maybe lose sight of what your business does, on a day to day. But here, if you're in a headquarters, or you go to a building, which maybe isn't the primary place where you interact with customers, you can lose sight of that. So I think it's imperative for leadership teams of all levels, to get those customer stories. And that's where voice a customer, you know, feedback comes in, capture those, share those within the organization, I think that's where you start to really get and build that, that that employee experience, and people believe in the brand, they believe in the culture. So I think that's critical. And the second is more difficult. But it can be done. And there's organizations that do this very well. As those people get out into the business, if it's a home improvement company, have them work the story, if it's a hospitality company, get them into the hotels and have them experience what those people are, or do if it's, you know, an airline, fly in the flight, if people can truly understand well, this is what goes on in a hotel, here's what a general manager is dealing with, here's how much time they might have to do that training or learn that new process. It creates a sense of empathy, it creates a sense of understanding that person those people now understand. So when they're designing a new process in the future, when they're doing something that requires a response from the field, they understand they have that perspective that they might not have had before. And you know, there's no substitute for that thing that yourself, you,

Rick Denton:

you hit my two favorites. My go twos with clients when I'm talking to them about that as storytelling, and get your butt out there. The impact of story I've told this on the show many times sorry listeners for the rerun here, but it is when I worked at a home equity company when I when I was an employee there and are a home equity division of a larger financial services company. And I was brought to tears in town halls with some of the stories that were told, and we're talking on a financial product here, but it's how it was applied for the customer. I imagine an extended stay America as you describe some of those guests going through incredibly impactful medical treatments to help either improve or even save their lives. What those stories must have been like the where they returned home to at the end of the day at the end of the treatment, providing a place of respite and comfort really brought that customer connectivity to bear for people across the entire company regardless of role.

Mike Kuenne:

Absolutely. There was an example Rick had a general manager shared with us during one of our general managers or certifications and children live in our hotels as well, you know, some families they're moving, and we're going through a tough time. And you think about Halloween, right. And there is an example of the were, apparently there were a lot of children in the hotel, it was in a place where they really weren't able to go trick or treating. Def recognize that they dressed up, they bought candy, they bought different things. So then the kids could go around, you know, room to room for the rooms that were participating, and have that experience, right. And that's not something that's in a training manual. That's not something you can teach. But But that's something is part of culture, truly understanding what we did. It's not just that box, in that you sleep, and it's that that experience. So, you know, similar examples, but that stuff only happens if you create the right culture that people want to do that. And that is,

Rick Denton:

not only is that a beautiful story to talk about the culture, but I imagine that was an impactful story, as it was told across the organization, it warms my heart hearing it I can only imagine had I been an employee or associated with that brand. What it would mean to me to know that those children who are going through whatever difficult or trans transition element in their life, that they had that opportunity. But Mike, I'm shocked, we're kind of running low on time here. But there's something that I wanted to ask you about. I alluded to total voc and how it is, you know, stop serving and score start, listen and act. And it amazes me how I still come across clients that are you know, what voice the customer that means the survey go out and get that and I agree with you. I'm not anti survey, but I'm anti only survey. And I'm curious that have you had that experience, in your advisory that working with clients that have that gap and experience of what true customer experience approach should be? And I'm curious what those stories might be, and then how you help transition them forward? How do you help them? Go? I guess, let me say go beyond the score.

Mike Kuenne:

Yeah. And you saw me smile. I absolutely. I get that question a lot. And that it's important. If you go and you type customer experience into a search engine, you know, NPs probably is one of the first things that popped right. NPS, NPS is great. I mean, NPS is great. It's important. It's a good. It's a good metric. I'll give you an example. Two, short answer to your question is yes, absolutely. There was a client I was working with last year was having the conversation, seasoned executives, hey, like, We need someone to help us implemented NPS program. And I said, Okay, so I can do that. I'm not sure that's what you want. But let's talk to tell me what you're trying to do. Right? So typical consultant answer to depends, right? So has more convert had some more conversation with them. And that's okay. NPS is great. Surveys are great. So I can get you an NPS score, I can get you a CX score. Let's pretend like it's six months down the line, we've implemented that you've got a solution. It's great. You got charts yet graphics, you have a number. So what are you going to do with that number? There was the same sounds that you and I are having right now. And how are you going to change that number? And then the third question, which is, which is somewhat related is how do you know what relevancy that number has? But if you have an NPS of a 40, okay, and the next month, you have a 60? And then the next month, you have a 20? What are you going to do with that information? Do you know why? Yes, was up to a 60. And you know why it went back to the 20. And, you know, you and I giggle a little bit, because we're practitioners, we understand that. But a lot of times, folks will go deeper than that. It's all within context, that NPS could have gone down to a 20 for a telecommunications company, because they had a big outage, well, it's important to know that it's important to know the context of why that's happened. So it's like anything you can date as important. Information is more important. Understanding the information is when you really start to have insights.

Rick Denton:

And right there, that's that's perfect, Mike. I mean, that's, that's, like almost voc Voice of the Customer one on one in a nutshell. And that is, so what what the score is, it's what you do with it. Mike? Brilliant. Mike, if folks want to know a little bit more about that, bro, it's if they want to connect with you and learn a little bit more, what's the best way for them to get in touch with you?

Mike Kuenne:

Yeah, I appreciate you asking. You can certainly go to Kuenneadvisory.com. It's tricky to spell but and I'm sure your users will have a way to get to that. And that's the best way talks a little bit about what we do. And I enjoy having conversations enjoyed talking with you, Rick. Hopefully it comes across in my voice and I'm passionate about it not just as what I do for a living, but just sort of in my everyday life. I like working with people serving people. So if I can be of help to someone, I'd be happy to have a conversation.

Rick Denton:

Awesome. Well, Mike, I will definitely get that in the notes so that folks can access that directly with a link if you just stopped down there and click it. Mike was great talking with you today, I enjoy having a conversation with someone who cares about the customer as much as I do, you may care about them even more. It sounds like I love how humanity wove its way as a theme throughout today, the idea even at the employee huddle aspect of it, and how we really get at that human level of connectivity, your Athan story really brought that to bear as well. And closing out with just the practical reality of the scores are irrelevant. It's what you do with it, Mike, that is so true. And I'm glad that we landed and ended on that theme. It was it was wonderful talking to you today. Mike, thank you so much for being on CX passport.

Mike Kuenne:

Likewise, thanks for having me.

Rick Denton:

Thanks for joining us this week on CX Passport. Make sure to visit our website cxpassport.com where you can hit subscribe so you'll never miss a show. While you're at it, you can check out the rest of the EX4CX website. If you're looking to get real about customer experience, EX4CX is available to help you increase revenue by starting to listen to your customers and create great experiences for every customer every time. Thanks for listening to CX Passport and be sure to tune in for our next episode. Until next time, I'm Rick Denton, and I believe the best meals are served outside and require a passport.