Secret Marketer: Why don’t more big brands realise the importance of personalised attention?

Why are most brands unable to convey a feeling of personalised attention? Are big brands just lazy, expecting customers to fall into their laps?

A couple of weekends ago, Mrs Secret Marketer and I spent a few days in Paris. Although we had been in the past, we didn’t have any preferred hotels or areas of the city to stay, so, like many visitors, we referred to TripAdvisor. After enduring many annoying pop ups, and the many subsequent email prompts to encourage us to book (even when we had), we secured our booking.

While we had done our due diligence, we were at the mercy of how we had interpreted what previous holidaymakers had written of their experience, and with so many hotels to choose from, it really did feel a bit like pot luck.

That was until the hotelier decided to act less like a logistics manager, who seems to run most holiday companies (and is more worried about yields than customers), and more like a marketer.

A few days after we had booked online, we received a very well-presented questionnaire. It asked about our expected time of arrival, how we were getting to the hotel, whether we preferred a double or twin bed and if we wanted water in our room – all simple questions that enabled them to follow up with helpful tips and instil a real personalised perception from the start. But better still, the questionnaire also asked whether we required any additional services, such as restaurant or theatre bookings, pre-arranged transport from the airport or station to the hotel and extras in the room such as flowers or chocolates – all revenue generators that I was inclined to accept, despite not even contemplating them beforehand.

For me, this was perfect marketing. I am quite sure that the hotelier had a slick system in place to send off 20 to 30 email questionnaires of this ilk to his customers every day. But the return on investment  – both in customer satisfaction and especially in upselling and cross-selling – must be significant. We didn’t feel sold to, yet we felt reassured that we had booked a secure and good quality hotel. Although we were happy to explore the city, we equally felt safe in the hands of someone who cared for us and would willingly accept his recommendations.

Why are so few brands able to convey this same feeling of personalised attention? Does this model not scale? Or are bigger brands just lazy, expecting customers to land in their lap? There are far more competitive sectors than city break hotels, so it is a joy to find some who really understand what good marketing can do and why it is important.

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  • Jo Watts 22 May 2015 at 10:30 am

    I think its safe to say that a well known big holiday company is right now feeling the pinch of not personalising its customer experience.
    It never fails to astound me how little attention companies pay to first impressions, especially in key areas such as customer service.

  • Tony Loeb 27 May 2015 at 9:07 am

    Pay attention to the little details is key when you work out your customer service. Today there are too many big brand that consider people like files numbers so the little brand can really make the difference by improving their personal human services. What you are describing is exactly what all small brand should have.

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