Shep Hyken\'s Customer Service Blog

Personalize Customer Service to Create Amazing Customer Experiences



Personalize the Customer Experience

There is one thing that you can do that almost guarantees that your customer will want to come back and do business with you.  It’s more than just delivering amazing customer service.  It’s delivering amazing personalized customer service.

The goal is to create the personal touch.  This is engagement at a higher level.  In its simplest form it may be just using the customer’s name.  However, some companies – and industries – have seen such value in personalizing customer service that they’ve taken this concept to higher levels.

What prompted me to write about this topic was an article I read in the May 28, 2013 issue of USA Today, which was about how some hotels are personalizing their guests’ wake-up calls.  Most hotels have a wake-up call system that once set, will automatically phone the guest’s room at the appointed time.  When the guest answers they typically hear a recorded message.  I’ve always appreciated the extra effort a hotel goes to when, instead of a recorded message, there is a live person who calls you and starts your day off with something pleasant like, “Good Morning Mr. Hyken.  Thanks for staying at our hotel, and we wish you a great day.”

Some hotels are taking this to a higher level.  For example, I’ve answered the phone for an early wake-up call and the employee not only wishes me a great day, but also offers to send up a complementary cup of coffee to get my day started.

While traveling for business to New York City, I stayed at the Kimpton Muse hotel, who has taken the personal touch to an even higher level.  Upon check in, the front desk team built some rapport with me.  I say “team” because there were three people behind the front desk, and since I was the only guest checking in, they all three interacted with me.  They engaged me with simple questions about any dinner reservations I might want to make, my favorite foods and more.  They also noticed that while the meeting I was attending was only three days long, I was staying for five days.  I told them my wife was joining me.

Was I ever surprised on Friday night, after my wife arrived, that the hotel sent up a bottle of wine, some fruit and chocolate.  How nice was that!  The staff paid attention and picked up on a piece of knowledge that allowed them to personalize my experience.  But that is not all they did.  There was something else on the tray, and it absolutely blew my mind.  There was a small picture frame, and the picture was of my wife and me!

I was… Amazed!  They had obviously gone on a website or my Facebook page and somehow found a picture of us, printed it out and put it in a frame.

The Kimpton Muse delivered personalized service.  The staff engaged in conversation, paid attention to what was said, and then took action.  Regardless of the type of business you are in, there is always an opportunity to personalize the customer experience.

Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, professional speaker and New York Times  bestselling business author. For information contact (314)692-2200 or For information on The  Customer  Focus™ customer service training programs go to Follow on Twitter: @Hyken
(Copyright ©MMXII, Shep Hyken)

  1. What the hotel did was personalization at its best, ofcourse for such a service no one will think twice before going back there wow!

  2. This is a great example of personalized service. It’s amazing how a few small touches like those you described can cement customer loyalty. That said, Kimpton’s are smaller, boutique hotels that specialize in this type of service. I often wonder why larger hotels (500+ rooms) can’t adopt similar measures.

    • Jeff – Great of you to stop by again. I’ve stayed at some very fine larger/chain hotels that gave me incredible and personalized service. For example, the JW Marriott in Indianapolis gave us amazing service during our National Speakers Association meeting last year. There is something in common that both the Kimpton Muse and the JW Marriott had in common… a manager who leads their guest service initiative. I encountered the managers at both hotels several times. Big or small, there are opportunities for both to shine with their customers!

  3. David Richards says:

    Whilst I love the concept of the ultimate customer experience Shep I would be slightly concerned that a hotel could obtain pictures of my wife & me to put in a frame. There must be a boundary that should not be crossed in delivering CS. If from previous visits they had knowledge of my favourite tipple then great but if data that I had not intentionally meant for public consumption was used I would be a bit concerned.

    • Under typical circumstances I might agree with you, however the front desk staff and manager engaged in conversation that gave them the information they needed to create the WOW experience! This was an amazing experience that we’ll remember.

  4. Interesting point about the live wake up call service from the hotel. It seems like the world is getting away from personalized service as opposed to moving towards it. I own a small motel business and we have a limited staff and many times we just can’t get to our phones, and our machine has to take the calls. We found that a lot of people would just hang up, and I can’t say I blame them. They need a room and are not going to sit around waiting for someone to call them back. I eventually used a call center to answer my phones and our sales went up 13% the first month and we actually had record sales in April. I attribute this completely to having a personalized service, especially in my absence. They book the rooms and even set restaurant reservations for us. For motels or hotels I’d recommend a couple resources that give out free trials from lots of call centers so you don’t get stuck with someone that does not meet your needs. Try which is a free third party review site that sets up free demos with multiple call centers. We ended up with and have been pretty pleased but I am sure there are plenty of other good ones out there. In fact, they are a bit expensive for our blood but the personal service totally pays for it. Also, theres a company called Calling Inn in Chesapeake that does nothing but answer calls for B&B etc (I think owned by MAP but ca’t promise)

    • Hi Debbie – Thanks for your comments and your story, which backs up the point in the article. And thank you for the resources you provided, which may be valuable for some of our readers.

  5. Dear Mr. Hyken
    This article really good. It showed the modern day of competitive edge
    In the environmental organization to provide both expectations and requirement of visitors or guests. As the old said “Promised what you cando and more than what you promised.”
    Thank you very much.
    With regard to you, Hyken


  6. Rennie Smith says:

    It’ really wonderful to hear that customer service goes to this extent. Last part about sending a photo frame was the best surprise one could get. I’m sure none forget if such a service is provided.

  7. I couldn’t agree more. These days, customers want attention, they want personalized service: they want to feel like someone cares about their individual experience. Meeting customer concerns with prompt, individualized, and empathetic response is absolutely crucial, both for maintaining a positive online reputation and for building customer loyalty.
    I recently created a post on this topic that looks at two major coffee chains as a case study:

  8. This is so true. If a customer doesn’t feel welcome, or that their experience wasn’t personalized then it is very difficult to make a good impression on them. It is even more difficult to do in this new online age. My company has recently began to implement programmatic personalization and we have seen great feedback from our customers. We use a company called Sunday Sky, and they have been a humungous amount of help to have a better impression with our customers. I would highly recommend checking out their site.

  9. Pingback: 4 Ways to Create a Personalized Guest Experience – Benbria Loop
  10. Pingback: 4 Tips for Ensuring Your Customers are Treated Better – Project Monarch

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