I’m a Marriott Hotel fan, but a couple of years ago, Marriott launched an interesting customer service strategy. When I check into a hotel, after all the credit card information and room assignment were taken care of, they would print my key, put it in the little envelope, and then – walk about the desk to hand it to me.
On the one hand it seemed like a personal thing to do. Take care of the official check-in stuff behind the desk, and then provide a personal touch by walking about the desk to hand me the key face to face.
Except that it wasn’t. It is awkward, the employees usually feel visibly uncomfortable, and most of all – it’s not helpful. As it is, I can have a nice conversation across the check-in desk, plus, he or she can hand me the key quickly and be done with it.
Taking the time to walk around the desk to hand me a room key is one of those ideas that sounds interesting when a consultant comes up with it, but when you see it in action, it’s actually inauthentic and not personal at all.
People notice when something seems “staged” for their benefit. Church visitors see it with over-eager volunteers attacking them in the church lobby. They mean well, but for a new visitor, it may just be too much. Church members see it when they’re overwhelmed with email blasts, newsletters, and mailers promoting the activities of the church.
It’s just too much.
I’m still a Marriott fan, but customer service needs to be natural and comfortable, or it’s not customer service at all.