Customer Experience in Remote Montana


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There’s a small hideaway at the end of a remote Montana valley. Lovely cabins with classic wood stoves. A rustic lodge with restaurant and bar. Gaze at the stars while soaking in the natural hot springs after a day on perfect XC ski trails.


It’s not for everyone. “Lovely cabins” to me means real logs, which can be drafty and dusty. “Classic” wood stoves means I’ll have to get up all night to stoke the fire. “Rustic lodge with restaurant” means they serve, in the actual words of the bartender on our last visit, “red, white, or pink wine.” And “perfect” ski trails means I’ll be alone breaking my own trail; certainly not the groomed, well-signed trails you’d find at a resort.

Montanans love this place. But they have a different perception of “lovely, rustic, classic, and perfect” than the occasional big-city tourist who takes a wrong turn and ends up at this place. Which makes for fascinating online ratings. When a place is not for everyone, ratings sites make for great comedy. Can you determine who was in the wrong place by looking at the following comments?

  • Food is always great (especially ribs cooked by Jaxson!!!) and the hospitality has always been warm and welcoming!
  • Web site calls the cabins “rustic,” by which they mean no running water, a single lamp and tattered furniture. A Depression-era outhouse fills out the picture. The “medium-rare” steak arrived well done.
  • The best in Montana! You can enjoy yourself in the middle of no-where for a good price!
  • I kept expecting Clark Griswold to pop out of one of the cabins, and say “hello” to me. Seriously. This is a place he would pick out. Mosquitos. Horrible food. Cabins that reeked like creosote. If you go, bring lots of alcohol. You’ll need it to make it through the nights (and days).
  • Food is great, awesome location, not “overrun” a “must go, and see , for yourself” !!! Down to earth people..wanted…. no “snob’s” allowed…. see ya soooooon
  • The main lodge is a little run down, does not have a full bar by any means. Service was dismal. The hot springs is run down. The pools need cleaning and the decking is in poor condition. The snow was not even shoveled around the deck, making it nearly impossible to get to the big pool. All in all very disappointing.
  • What a bunch of whiny S.O.B.’s. This place is nice. Yes, this not a Holiday Inn. Go hiking, soak in the spring. I come with my family and play games, get loud, drink whiskey, and have a grand time. Yes, the cabins are minimal. I have always found them clean and the bedding fresh. Always a table and light. You want room service, go somewhere else.

The average ratings are just that: Average. Yet few customers actually rate it average. Customers love it or hate it.

Elkhorn Reviews Graph

What is the point of this story? What meaning pertains? Customer experience measurement and management is tricky stuff. All customers are not alike. There are niche businesses, target customers, and always segmentation. You can’t be all things to all people. There is no average.

Customer experience researchers use art and science to bring meaning to disparate ratings and comments. They dig deeper than aggregate averages to really understand what the customer feedback means to you and your business.

The most insightful take-aways are always hidden below the surface, and the best get-aways are always more than what meets the eye, on the surface!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Ed Stalling
Ed Stalling is Chief storyteller, aka Sr. Director of Business Management, at MaritzCX. For the past 24 years Ed has been a Research Manager discovering and delivering insights to Fortune 100 clients, retaining and growing major accounts, building business with global clients in the technology sector, improving company ability to discover and communicate insights globally, designing and delivering an extensive training program around the ingredients of insight, coaching a sales force, and aligning marketing and sales. He is passionate about advancing the art involved in insight discovery and communications, and is utterly convinced that market research and customer experience can be creative and fun.


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