At Marriott International, the path to an excellent customer experience begins and ends with its employees. “Take care of associates and they will take care of the customer,” said J. Willard Marriott, the legendary founder of the 92-year-old hospitality company.
Every year for the past decade, KPMG’s Customer Experience Excellence Report has revealed findings about consumers and their individual experiences with brands they interact with. The research has found that brands with a strong commitment to outstanding customer experience (CX) and value-driven relationships can reap the rewards of customer retention and loyalty.
Read the report: The connected experience—2019 U.S. Customer Experience Excellence Report.
The report outlines The Six Pillars of Customer Experience that impact CX success: Personalization, Integrity, Expectations, Resolution, Time and Effort, and Empathy. It also explores approaches and strategies that brands can use to move beyond organizational constraints and outdated practices in order to embrace the latest standards of customer experience excellence. And it showcases leading brands that are facing their CX challenges—and overcoming them.
Marriott, now the largest hotel chain in the world with 6,900 hotels under 30 different brands, uses employee engagement to drive an emotional connection with its customers.
Recognizing that employees who feel valued and appreciated are more highly motivated and more likely to exert that extra bit of effort on behalf of customers, Marriott put its founder’s words into action. It pioneered the development of one of the industry’s first holistic employee well-being initiatives and recently instituted a parental leave program covering births and adoptions. In 2009, it changed eligibility rules so employees whose hours were cut back due to the recession didn’t lose their healthcare benefits. And Marriott invested savings from its 2018 tax cut into employee’s retirement accounts and new career development and work/life support programs.
To further stay in touch with employees, Bill Marriott, the 87-year-old executive chairman of the company, still dines every day in the company cafeteria, where individuals are welcome to share their lunch, thoughts and ideas with him.
This focus on employees has yielded great dividends for Marriott in terms of customer service and financial results, finding that hotels with higher associate engagement scores tend to perform better financially.
The connection between the employee experience and the customer experience also underlies its technology investments. Like all hospitality companies, Marriott employs technology to enhance all aspects of the customer experience, from booking a reservation to paying a bill. But it believes that customer experience is really about human connections. So technology’s true values lies in freeing up its hotel staff to spend more time creating those personalized customer experiences.
As an industry leader, Marriott is developing many new ways to delight customers – from experimenting with home rentals to expanding its award-winning Bonvoy customer loyalty program.
Learn more about other brands that are winning the CX challenge.