Is Your Customer Experience Accidental


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Most Customer Experiences are accidents—and unfortunately, they are not always happy ones. Why? Unless a company designs a deliberate experience that puts the Customer first and considers the Customer’s perspective, the message you send to the subconscious is rarely what you intend. The message you send will communicate how you are as an organization.

What do I mean by this? I’ll explain by using some examples from a hotel room. The nature of my job means I spend a lot of time in hotel rooms. So while it might seem I am picking on them, the truth is I just have a lot of experience dealing with hotels and the “little things” that make an experience what it is there.

Convicted without a trial.

When I first get to a hotel, I get settled. I kick off my shoes. I set my computer up on the desk. I put my bag down on the bed and unzip it to put my hanging clothes in the cupboard. However, when I open the door, I almost always encounter this:


To me, this says, “Hello, thief!”

When the hotel decided to reduce the theft of their hanger by installing these, they send the subconscious signal that every hotel guest can’t be trusted to resist the idea of picking up a few new hangers on their trip. In my case, this is justified, because whenever I see the regular kind of hangers, I fill up my suitcase. It seems about right considering the expectations set for my moral character.

Location, location, location.

What I lack in trustworthiness, I make up for in cleanliness. I nearly always exercise good grooming whenI travel. But I am often surprised by the location of my supplies. It’s not uncommon to have this type of bathroom counter encounter:


Maybe I’m doing it wrong…

When you stay in a hotel, where do you wash your hair? In the sink? I’ll wager not. Maybe I’m strange, but I wash my hair in the shower. However, hotels nearly always put the shampoo next to the sink. Why don’t they put it the shower where the majority of people are going to use it? The answer is because they didn’t think about that; they didn’t deliberately look at where they put the shampoo and how that plays out in the Customer’s experience. And in most cases, it’s not a big deal, either. But having the shampoo in the shower is handy—especially if you are already showering and are ready to wash your hair, and didn’t necessarily remember to grab it off the counter next to the bloody sink.

For MY convenience…I think not!

Next to airlines, few places on Earth take greater advantage of Customer’s poor planning and laziness than the hotel mini bar. Stocked with alcohol and carbohydrates in their many forms, the hotel mini bar is a lesson in supply and demand (and by supply, I mean right-there-without-going-to-find-a-convenience-store supply), as anyone who has paid $7.50 for a mini-bag of cookies can attest. However, it is also a lesson in subconscious messages, particularly the sign that read, “For your convenience, items that are removed will automatically be charged.” However, I don’t think that is for my convenience but for the hotel’s.

Am I just hacked off at hotels? No! Well, okay…maybe a little. However, I reserve my ire for hotels that don’t think about the Customer first and the organization second.

If you asked the managers of the hotels where these instances occurred if it was their intention to send these signals, that hotel guests were hanger-thieving, sink-bathing, cookie munchers, they would likely deny it. They would also probably wonder why you asked. Because the truth is, many hotels don’t realize the messages their experience moments are sending. The hotels are who they are and that is what comes across in their Customer Experience, making their experience, in many little ways, an accident.

Many chains do the right things for the Customer that make he or she feel like valued guests instead of derelicts. The Mandarin Oriental Hotels are an example of a hotel that puts much thought into how to put the Customer at the center of what they do. How do they do this? They do it by looking at thing as if theywere a Customer, or what we call and outside-in approach.  They make sure there is nothing accidental about their experience, but instead deliver a deliberate experience that appeals to the conscious and subconscious emotions of their guests.

Listen, accidents happen; it’s part of business. But how you treat your Customer should never be one ofthem. Each detail of your Customer Experience should be designed to evoke the right emotions from your Customers—and not be left to chance.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Colin Shaw
Colin is an original pioneer of Customer Experience. LinkedIn has recognized Colin as one of the ‘World's Top 150 Business Influencers’ Colin is an official LinkedIn "Top Voice", with over 280,000 followers & 80,000 subscribed to his newsletter 'Why Customers Buy'. Colin's consulting company Beyond Philosophy, was recognized by the Financial Times as ‘one of the leading consultancies’. Colin is the co-host of the highly successful Intuitive Customer podcast, which is rated in the top 2% of podcasts.


  1. These principles can be applied across any industry. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. What is going to make their experience a good one?


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