Who thought of that?
I travel a fair amount, both in the U.S. and internationally. Over the course of my travels, one thing remains a pet peeve of mine.
More often than not, when I arrive in a new, clean room, the drain has been closed by the housekeeping staff. However, I don’t always want the drain closed. Unless I’m taking a bath (vs. a shower), I never want the drain closed.
In fact, I’ve actually had an overflow situation before, having stepped away for a moment while running the water to get it to the right temperature, not knowing until too late that the drain was closed. (I realize this is not particularly green behavior, but hey, it’s a reality of coming into a hotel room late at night.)
So the question I have to ask is: who thought of that?
It’s so prevalent across all kinds of hotel chains that it makes me wonder if it is part of a training manual somewhere. A quick Google search reveals the same question is being asked on forums and other blogs, and the answer appears to be that there is no real answer—even the housekeeping staff doesn’t always know. Whatever the case, it doesn’t seem to be a particularly productive process and truthfully, can be a bit irritating for the customer (me!) Leaning over to lift the drain before taking a shower isn’t heavy labor of course, and it isn’t hard to do, but again, it is a small, consistent annoyance.
What Does the Customer Want?
The bathtub drain really begs this question: what small processes or actions are you and I performing in our own businesses that have become institutionalized over the years, and further, have we paused to ask if this is what the customer wants? Maybe it’s the way you’re packaging your product or maybe it’s the way you’re assembling your equipment.
Whatever it is, what is the purpose of each process? And when is the last time you and your team asked the question, “is this really necessary?” and “is this good for our customers?” and “why?”
A Brief Case Study
Recently, I worked with a client that makes an updated version of a very complex machine. The width of this machine, however, is different than the model it replaces. When someone upgrades to the new version with the new width, they are dealing with equipment that has a new form factor and which impacts their physical installation and implementation process. Someone, somewhere, in the engineering department thought this was a brilliant idea, but it actually radically changes how the machine is installed, therefore causing a real annoyance in the installation process to become operationalized.
We have to stop and ask ourselves why we do the things we do.
In a recent INC magagize article,CEO and Co-Founder of Digsite, Monika Wingate, emphasizes the importance of testing your product or services as early and as often as possible. Why? “When you iterate early, it’s easier to get team alignment on making changes, especially if it happens before they’ve fallen in love with their baby. By honing in on solutions over time, you are avoiding costly rework later on”, says Wingate. “Regardless of how big your company is or what types of products or services you sell, you will benefit from learning and building solutions alongside your customers (emphasis mine) The result will be a team energized by knowing they are making a real difference for both your company and your customers.”
So, whether it’s the process of closing the bathtub drain in a hotel room or making sure an updated part of your product allows for easy installation, the customer experience should always be a priority. Even if “it’s the way we’ve always done it”, it doesn’t mean it is the most efficient, or best way of serving the customer.
Questions to consider:
- Do you know what your customers really want, or are you building solutions that you think your customers want?
- Are there any processes within your business model that fail to add value to the customer experience or are done just because they’ve “always been done that way”?
- What practical steps can you take to test your product against customer satisfaction as early and as often as possible?