A place where everybody knows your name

A couple of weeks ago I read that they are inventing smartphones that can read your mind. While this kind of freaks me out, it made me wish that more humans could do this. Specifically those responsible for designing and delivering customer experiences.

This was driven home to me last month on a trip to Singapore. The hotel I stayed at was first class at reading my mind or put another way – anticipating my needs, meeting and even exceeding those needs. Every member of staff seem to know my name (just like the Cheers bar without Norm) and were genuinely interested in making my stay memorable. So memorable that I would tell stories about it on my return.

One example of their fabulous mind reading was when I was wading out to a sun lounger that was located in their swimming pool. The loungers were surrounded by water and as I was wading, I was also thinking “what am I going to do with my books and clothes – I don’t want them getting wet?”. I plonked myself down on the lounger but I was still clutching my books and clothes. Next minute, someone appears and says “Ms Mclean, here is a table for your books and clothes”. Genius. Someone had seen me, thought about what I needed and given it to me. Being observant, anticipating what a customer needs based on what you have noticed about them is fundamental in delivering experiences that become stories you tell to your friends.

Contrast this with my plane trip home where I had paid extra to upgrade to Business Class. I was super excited and arrived in my seat carrying two bags. There was no room in any of the overhead lockers that I opened so I sat down with the bags in the aisle and figured that someone would come and help me. Meanwhile all the other Business Class customers were giving me that look that said “don’t squash your bag on top of my more superior one”. Awkward. A little girl waited but no one came. The cabin crew all seemed busy doing their “champagne or orange juice” process and couldn’t deviate from this. They were actually stepping over my bags as they did their “champagne or orange juice” gig. So I just sat there feeling weird.

I felt like the cabin crew did not see me. Did not see that I could not find an overhead locker. Did not see that I was an excited bunny to be in Business Class. Did not see that my excitement was turning to awkwardness. I felt like they were too focused on executing the “this is what we always do at the start of a flight” process which meant they missed the opportunity to observe what I actually needed.

Rest assured that I did manage to find a place for my bags and hopefully I did not offend any of my cheerful fellow passengers. Of course, I would have needed a mind reading smartphone to ascertain this for sure.

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