As an E Source consultant, I travel a lot throughout Canada and the US to deliver work at our clients’ offices. It’s one of the most rewarding parts of my job to roll up my sleeves and get down to work with our clients, helping them solve problems related to customer experience (CX) and change management. At the same time, it can be a bit tedious living on the road. There’s only so much ESPN a guy can watch in a hotel room.

Stock photo of a front-desk hotel bell

So when I have a great customer experience in a hotel, it sticks with me. I had two recent and memorable experiences that reminded me why I think utilities need to get serious about CX—and how I think E Source can help.

Here’s my story.

I arrived late one night at a hotel where I’ve stayed repeatedly during an ongoing E Source customer project. Not only was I greeted by name, but the young man who checked me in immediately resumed a conversation we had going on our favorite NFL teams and their prospects for this year. I felt more than just remembered—I felt valued and special.

Later that same week, my customer forgot her briefcase in my car after an evening meal. She decided the best way to get it back was to intercept me when I returned to my hotel. When she showed up and asked for me (I was still en route), the hotel staff offered her a complimentary drink while she waited. They gave her this VIP treatment because they knew she was waiting for me, one of their faithful repeat customers.

When I arrived at the hotel, my customer—who works in CX—was over the moon and eager to tell me the story; she also promised to recommend this hotel to anyone she knew.

Personally, I was motivated to seek out the hotel manager to ensure his staff got recognition for this great customer experience. I also knew I would be loyal to this hotel forever.

Meanwhile, in the utility world …

Compare the experience I had with my hotel with the customer service that your utility currently offers. For me, dealing with a utility is often characterized by long wait times, impersonal service, inconsistent responses depending on who I am talking to, and jarring stops and starts as I jump across multiple channels to get what I need.

In short, it’s not anything worth remembering. Except in a bad way.

This level of service from utilities used to be accepted by customers. Utilities, meanwhile, were satisfied merely by benchmarking themselves against utilities in other jurisdictions. As long as we’re not at the bottom of the barrel, the thinking went, we’re doing well enough.

But customer expectations have changed. For example:

  • The growing number of millennials who make up your customer base are more tech-savvy and won’t settle for anything less than a stellar online experience.
  • All your customers expect a different relationship with you than they’ve historically had. You’re being compared to customer-centric businesses such as Open Table, Delta, and Uber.
  • Customers have access to new technologies like solar and electric cars, and they’re looking to you to help them integrate these innovations into their lives,  not tell them how difficult it will be.

E Source offers our members a wide range of self-service tools to get your arms around this CX challenge. A great place to start is with our CX Maturity Assessment. It’ll help you find out how mature your CX strategy is and suggest content to help you become a CX leader.

If you need additional help, our Consulting Solutions team is also available to come on-site and help you start or continue your CX journey. We’ll also be out in full force at another top-notch customer-focused hotel: the Sheraton Denver Downtown, the venue for this year’s E Source Forum, September 13–16. Come meet us!