“We will give you a 25% discount on your room rate,” the front desk hotel clerk pleasantly said to the frequent guest, “if you’ll let us watch you unpack!” When the guest recoiled in disbelief, the perky clerk quickly added with an impish smile. “No, it’s not what you think! We’re not trying to get kinky; we’re just trying to learn how our guests actually use our guest rooms. As soon as you’re unpacked we promise to leave in privacy!”
Ten customers later, the hotel had learned a lot about subtle workarounds—those awkward distractions customers encounter, cope with, yet never complain about. The complimentary hair dryer plugged into the bathroom receptacle forced guests to unplug it before they were able to plug in their own hair dryer; the couple traveling together had to put one suitcase on the floor since only one luggage cradle was provided; the clever iron permanently attached to the ironing board left no square ironing board corner for pressing the shoulders of dress shirts. None of these subtle but off-putting workarounds had ever appeared on guest comment card.
When University of Florida professor Gerald Young asked patients the reasons they would switch physicians or health care providers, “quality of care” was first; “personal treatment” was third. But when Dr. Young asked the same patients who actually switched physicians or health care providers for their reasons, “personal treatment” moved up to first place; “quality of care” fell much lower. Customers’ predictions of their behavior were quite different from how they actually performed. Watch your customers in action! Their actions may tell you a different story than their words on a survey or comment card!