Designing for great customer experiences

I love skiing and spending time on the mountain in winter. I love the vibe of the alpine resorts, the warm cozy atmosphere in the bars after a long exhausting day, the fireplaces, the hot cocktails and the convivial feeling you get when on vacation with your friends. But before a ski vacation I always feel a bit skeptical. I go in with the expectation that I’m about to be ripped off; that on the mountain the food is going to be terrible, everything is going to be terribly over-priced, there won’t be enough tables, the toilets will be a mess, the queues will be long. And in my past experiences, usually these are all spot on.

Enter Vail – the ultimate customer experience

Recently I went to Vail in Colorado and they blew all my skepticism out of the water! They obviously have a fantastic management team up there, who want to make sure their guests have a great time, feel loved and go away smiling. I feel like they have sat down around the boardroom table and said “what is going to make every customer leave happy? What do our customers need when they are here? How do we make this a great experience for every one of them? Vail is certainly not a cheap weekend, but the little things really made me feel happy and like I was getting value for money. Here are some examples of what made Vail great for me:

  • Every time I walked into a restaurant, bar, bathroom, or ticket office (in fact almost every building I walked in to) there was a box of tissues by the door. And almost every time I had a runny nose (and so did all the other guests)!  How great that I wasn’t scrambling around the bottom of a girl friends handbag or grabbing a bit of toilet paper to blow my nose on. Tissues were always available. Tick!
  • Big ski resorts can be confusing and I’m sure the logistics of signposting are complex.  At Vail, there are large boards with trail maps at the top of most main ski lifts. I could ski off the chair lift, over to the trail map and work out a plan. And to make it even better – there’s a friendly lady in a Vail jumpsuit standing there to help! A customer service officer on hand, smiling at me and helping me “make a plan” to ensure I didn’t miss happy hour. Tick!
  • Vail has integrated lift tickets with all the neighboring resorts. My lift tickets that I booked via a travel agent are easily located in the system when I give the ticket desk my name. No paper print outs or confirmation numbers. There’s an app that tracks where I go on the mountain all day via the built in RFID chip in the pass, and I can log in and track my mountain statistics and even boast about my skiing prowess via Twitter and Facebook. Impressive. Tick!
  • The food is good at Vail!! I couldn’t believe in the cafeterias how much variety and choice there was and how fresh and tasty it seemed. My experience (admittedly only in Australia and New Zealand) was that all mountains served bad hotdogs and cold fries and you just had to deal with it or go hungry! They accept credit cards, there’s no minimum transaction amount. Tick! Tick! Tick!

Nothing is a hassle for me at Vail! Vail gave me a fantastic customer experience.


Yay Vail – so what does this have to with Sitrion?

A lot of businesses are returning to the basics of customer service and customer experience as they understand that word of mouth marketing is a powerful tool and that a network of happy customers is one of the most powerful assets a company can have. I could go on for days about customer experiences I’ve had both good and bad. NAB & Optus in Australia have a genuinely great customer experience. Qantas a terrible one. Here in the USA I’ve had amazing experience when my Samsung GS4 broke that I bought from Google; did you even know you could call Google? They stepped me through the entire replacement process, almost literally holding my hand. I was astounded! Delta actually telephones me when my flight is delayed, like the phone physically rings and the (automated) lady at the other end politely lets me know they’re running late and I should go to the airport later. Good experience!


Great customer experience is about understanding customer needs.

It’s also about exceeding customer expectations. And that’s what the Customer Experience team at Sitrion  is here to do. To bring a customer centric focus to everything we do as a company and to exceed our customers’ expectations every time. Oliver Ziegler is at the helm of our newly formed business unit and he has a vast experience in this field to guide us. Brandon Houghton heads up our Customer Support team and is looking at streamlining the support process, and guiding customers through their concerns and glitches. Tobi Anderson leads training and adoption and she is the guru when it comes to organizational development and training.  And lastly there is me, our community and customer evangelist nurturing and catalyzing connections amongst our awesome network of customers in our digital community called Engage.


The world’s best social business customers

Together our vision is to transform the customer experience at Sitrion and exceed our customer’s expectations every time. Some parts of this we already do really well at and we recognize that some parts we have a ways to go in making this a reality, but let it be known that we’re here and we’re aggressively transforming our business for the future. We have the world’s best customers and we are here to deliver them the world’s best customer experience.

Collective 2014 – our exclusive customer and partner conference

Are you already a customer or partner? Registration for Collective 2014 is now open. Join us in Orlando, Amsterdam and Sydney for several days of immersive thought leadership sessions, workshops and experiences!  I can’t wait to see you there.


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Luke Sinclair, Director of Community

Luke's personal mission is to to make employees smile and love their workplace by lighting up social networks and online employee communities, empowering the voice of the employee. Luke’s roll is critical to the survival of humanity; by nurturing better relationships at work, people are happier, healthier and have a better life which in turn leads to world peace!!!!!! Luke brings his vision for engagement to all things Sitrion where he helps make social a reality for businesses around the world.

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