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Avoiding the Curse of the Terrible Towel

(November 2013) posted on Wed Oct 30, 2013

How to improve the customer experience.

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By Jared Smith

On a recent business trip, I stayed in one of the area’s nicer hotels. The lobby was amazing, the staff was very courteous and helpful, and the check-in process was quick and efficient. Once I secured my key, I headed up to my room to unwind. Upon opening the door, I was pleased to find a nice room layout and good-sized flatscreen TV. I kicked off my shoes and went to hang up my clothes in the closet next to the bathroom.

It was at that moment that I saw something out of place: A sopping wet towel was hanging from the shower rod, dripping water onto the bathroom floor.

“Ugh, disgusting!” I said to myself, and a string of questions immediately began pouring through my brain. “Why it is it there?” “How do I get it down without touching it?” “Why is it wet – how could someone have left it there?” “Should I get a new room?” And so on. I’m not really a germaphobe, but this was more than a little gross.

More internal dialogue followed: “You would think a hotel this nice would have a process to ensure this stuff didn't happen. But maybe this place doesn’t have such a process. Maybe this place isn't so nice after all. There was a nice place across the street and it costs the same so maybe I should stay there next time.”

My wet-towel problem got me thinking: As a business owner, I recognize how hard it is to get everything right – and how easy it is to ruin the experience by missing a single detail. I continue to question our practices at bluemedia, but I sometimes wonder how often we might miss details like these. And, by missing something like the wet towel, how often – and how badly – do we ruin the customer experience?

A matter of pride
Just as importantly, what can we all do to ensure our own customers don’t find a “wet towel” when it comes to our performance and jobs? What follows are just a few points I’ve come up with.