JW Marriott Kuala Lumpur – Customer Experience Review

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This is the second Customer Experience Review I have conducted in the last couple of weeks. Two weeks ago, I wrote my first review of a hotel – Wotton House in Surrey. If you have read that review, you will already know that the experience fell a long way short of meeting my expectations (you can read the review here). The review that you are now about to read looks at another hotel – a few thousand miles away from Wotton House. I am very fortunate to travel a lot with my work and sometimes that sees me visiting distant shores. This week I spent three days in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – my board and lodgings were provided by the JW Marriott Hotel. It is often useful to compare reviews of businesses in the same industry and that is why I thought it would be an interesting exercise to apply my Customer Experience Review format on the JW Marriott. The question is – would my conclusions be similar to Wotton House….or not!

Date Review Conducted 6th June 2014
Hotel Visited JW Marriott Kuala Lumpur
CX Review Total Score 42/50
Stars Awarded 4/5

Much of the time when I am travelling, hotels are selected for me. As with Wotton House two weeks ago, I did not choose to stay at the JW Marriott in Kuala Lumpur. I was visiting Malaysia to deliver a Customer Experience workshop, and my accommodation was selected by the training company. One similarity between Wotton House and the JW Marriott is that both hotels are owned by groups – they are not independent. The multi-national Marriott Empire is significantly bigger than Principal Hayley (who own Wotton House) – the Marriott Group own a number of different brands, including one of the most customer centric organisations on the planet – the Ritz Carlton. My expectations of the JW Marriott in Kuala Lumpur were therefore quite high – I was very much hoping that they would not let me down. Let the review commence…

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Accessibility – CX Review Score 8/10

How easy was it for me to do what I needed to do with the JW Marriott in Kuala Lumpur? For this category I have awarded the JW (for short!) a good score of 8 out of 10. Although I was not responsible for booking the hotel, having reviewed the JW Marriott website, if I had of completed the reservation process myself, it would not have been an issue. Easy to find, intuitive to use, it is as good as any hotel website I have seen.

The hotel is located in the centre of the city – it is attached to a shopping Mall, and directly opposite another shopping Mall. The iconic Petronas Towers are only a ten minute stroll along an air conditioned walkway! The choice of restaurants and bars within a 100 metre radius is endless. JW have negotiated a 10% discount for guests of the hotel at many of the restaurants, so you are not even restricted to room service or a lifeless hotel dining room.  It is very difficult to find fault with the location.

The hotel itself has everything you would expect from a JW Marriott in addition to the excellent dining variety. A Spa is complimented by a very well stocked gym – a gym that is very sensibly open 24 hours a day – something that satisfies me greatly. There is also a lovely swimming pool. The conference facilities are excellent, and nothing was too much trouble – I never once felt guilty asking the staff for help (something I often feel in other hotels I have frequented).

The hotel is fully Wi-Fi enabled (as you would expect), but this is where the JW does lose points in my scoring. The ‘free’ Wi-Fi’ given to guests as standard is so slow, that it is almost not worth having it in the first place. It was taking me almost 30 seconds to open an email. When I contacted reception, they immediately apologised and offered to ‘upgrade’ me to the premium Wi-Fi service free of charge. In my opinion, the premium Wi-Fi should be standard – I should not have had to ask. Wi-Fi has become a basic for hotel experiences – making it difficult for customers to connect to the internet will be detrimental to most customer experiences.

My bedroom was very nice – not the best room I have ever stayed in, but very good. Well furnished, the super king-size bed was incredibly comfortable, with plenty of different types of pillow to satisfy the requirements of all guests. A huge ‘up to date’ TV was complemented by a DVD player. The bathroom was fabulous, sporting a separate shower from the bath – not enough hotels (especially in the UK) have separate showers.

All in all, the JW in Kuala Lumpur was very good on the accessibility front – hence the high score.

Range/Choice – CX Review Score 7/10

When looking at Range and Choice in the context of a hotel, there are a number of things that I deem to be important. I believe that the hotel should offer a variety of room formats – from a ‘basic’ option; to rooms with single or double beds; to family friendly rooms; to rooms that are easily accessible for people who need it. As a family of 5, I am also very keen to know if a hotel would be able to accommodate us – either in one room, or via interconnecting rooms. You would be amazed how many hotels in the world will not do either.

The JW in Kuala Lumpur has plenty of variety and choice. I stayed in a Deluxe room with a City View – the cheapest option – quite frankly, it is not worth spending any more. If you want more, you can go for an Executive room, a Studio Suite or a Junior Suite. They also have rooms for those that require easy access, and are still able to offer smoking rooms.

The JW falls down on the family front. It does not matter if you have a two bedroom suite or a ‘basic’ deluxe room – the maximum occupancy for a room in this hotel is three people. That means a family of four of five would have to pay for two rooms. When there is no legal reason why more than three people cannot stay in one room, this is a ‘policy’ that enables hotels to make more money out of guests – or at least that is how it feels. It is not clear if the hotel even has inter-connecting rooms.

For the JW to increase their score in this category, they need to consider making their hotel a more effective option for a family of four or more.

People – CX Review Score 9/10

The Ritz Carlton are famous for delivering world class customer service – so famous in fact, that other brands send their staff to be trained by them. Having interacted with the staff at the JW in Kuala Lumpur, it is clear that the Ritz Carlton is not the only part of the Marriott Group who ‘get’ customer service. From the minute I approached the front door of the hotel, to the second I got in my taxi to return to the airport, I was met with smiling, polite, friendly, helpful staff. Their behaviour was exemplary.

Every time I spoke to someone, they addressed me as ‘Sir’. Every employee I came across made eye contact with me – from the cleaning staff to the concierge to the receptionists. If their mission was to make you feel welcome, they succeeded with flying colours.

Even speaking to hotel employees on the phone was a pleasant experience. It was difficult to find fault. Being picky, the only thing I would say is that there is a risk that they take their customer focussed behaviour slightly too far. I actually found it quite difficult to end a phone conversation the other night – the lovely ladies I spoke to were overdoing it – ‘is there anything else I can help you with’; enjoy your evening; please contact me if you need anything else; thank you so much for calling – I kid you not, all of this was delivered at the end of one telephone call – all I wanted was to arrange a wakeup call! It is lovely, but too much kindness can get a little irritating.

I do not want to end on a minor negative though – the JW Kuala Lumpur employees are a credit to the company and to the brand – others (including Wotton House) could learn a lot from the way they conduct their business.

Value – CX Review Score 9/10

The JW in Kuala Lumpur is not the cheapest hotel in the city – but it is also not what I would consider expensive. One night in a Deluxe room can cost as little as £144 a night – that is amazing value for a city centre hotel of this quality. An equivalent quality hotel in London would cost three times the amount.

Value is defined by more than just price – in this case, the quality of the product and the service mean that a score of 9 out of 10 is very well deserved.

How did it make me feel? – CX Review Score 9/10

The best word to describe how my JW Marriott experience made me feel is ‘great’! Lovely location; very good room; very good facilities; and excellent customer service. It felt like I was staying in a hotel that knew what it was doing. My high expectations of the JW brand had been met – I was delighted. This is how all companies should aspire to make their customers feel.

It is important to note that despite this, the JW in Kuala Lumpur still have room for improvement. They scored 42/50 in my Customer Experience Review process – continuous tinkering with some of the things I have described would see that score rise. It is always a good thing to have room to improve – as long as the brand recognises that improvement is always necessary!

Would I use them again? YES

It was pretty easy to guess my answer to this question. If I come to Kuala Lumpur again – on business or for pleasure, I would be very happy to stay at the JW. Not only that, but if friends or colleagues were to ask me for hotel recommendations in Kuala Lumpur, what do you think I am likely to say? I would have no hesitation in recommending the JW – as long as it met the budget of the person asking me!!

My experience has also reinforced my perception of the Marriott Group. Whilst the CEO is no longer a Marriott by name, the family influence is still significant – Bill Marriott would probably not be happy that the JW in Kuala Lumpur only scored 42/50 – but that is because he expects perfection – and that is a good thing. Bill Marriott once said – ‘we’re not selling widgets. We’re selling experiences’ – my experience demonstrates that the experiences they are serving up are pretty good!

The portrait of the Marriott's that looks over the reception desk of their hotels

The portrait of the Marriott’s that looks over the reception desk of their hotels

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Ian Golding, CCXP
A highly influential freelance CX consultant, Ian advises leading companies on CX strategy, measurement, improvement and employee advocacy techniques and solutions. Ian has worked globally across multiple industries including retail, financial services, logistics, manufacturing, telecoms and pharmaceuticals deploying CX tools and methodologies. An internationally renowned speaker and blogger on the subject of CX, Ian was also the first to become a CCXP (Certified Customer Experience Professional) Authorised Resource & Training Provider.

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