Bad Customer Experience - When to Cut your Losses


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  • no hospitality standards despite big name brand wyndham

    Bad Customer Experience

    Doing the right thing when things go wrong is not exactly a good business case. But many do it anyway. Why? Because brands want to protect (and grow) their brand equity through human-centered customer experience design of their products and services. In that sense, the return on investment has a lifetime value even if it misses the mark in the short term.

    Good CFOs know this. Like other leaders, CFOs need the support and input from the business to make the right decisions. One of the hardest “right decisions” is admitting when it’s time to close a business.

    The Ramada in Fishkill, a Wyndham property is a clear example of what NOT to do in the hospitality industry. And when to recognize it’s time to shut down. The hotel, which has a 3 star rating online, charged us a “special rate” of $123. This implies the regular rate is even higher. For a three star hotel. In Fishkill. Let’s take you on the guest journey with us.


    In Ramada Fishkill, check-in is called Registration. This operational term immediately signals the guest that he/she is seen as a number. Think about the logic behind the term. Who gets registered? People who need to be processed.

    Once you approach the registration area, the desk does not always have a person behind it. Two out of the four times I went to the desk nobody was there.


    A picture speaks a thousand words. I will let our images convey the quality of the accommodations. What really shocked me was the chair that can tell the story of too many occupants before me.

    Dilapidated hotel room conditions and a clock that was never changed for Daylight Savings Time last spring.

    I think the last time I stayed in a place with such dilapidated doors, windows and furniture I paid a dollar or two a night in post-Communist Bulgaria.


    We were not asked to rate our experience – one of the many touchpoints that customer centered design includes. In this day and age if you are a hospitality brand that does not collect customer feedback, you are on the track to extinction.

    Prioritize this as soon as you can unless you want to be irrelevant in a few years (by the way, we can help you if you choose to stay in business).

    What is the impact of Bad Customer Experience?

    The bad customer experience of Ramada Fishkill is not a problem by itself. Hospitality brands have the right to choose what level of quality and service to offer.

    What is causing a real customer experience friction is the brand name and association. The name is Ramada, by Wyndham. Wyndham is a brand house that owns brands of varied level of service. It is such a strong brand that customers expect even the low end to meet a minimum viable standard that includes customer centered design.

    No one associates Wyndham with peeled paint and filthy windows. As Denise Lee Yohn says, “Your brand can’t JUST be a promise. It must be promise delivered.” Last week, Wyndham did not deliver on the promise of a 3 star hotel in their brand house. Not only that, they did not seem to care enough to check with customers about their experience.

    Bad Customer Experience and Minimum Viable Product

    A self-respecting brand sets a standard for minimum viable product. When we were building the JFK lobby in JetBlue for example, we set rigid guidelines and expectations about the look and feel of the lobby before we launched. For example, we could live with the self service back drop that was not entirely user friendly. However, we could not launch without all the kiosks being installed and tested. Nor could we launch until all the kiosk lights were working (those lights… the hardest of all to defend and the most ROI in the design).

    Similarly, Ramada and Wyndham should have quality audits or check lists for what is acceptable in a 3 star hotel. Dirty furniture and curtains, peeled paint and old infrastructure should not be allowed in a hotel that has a strong, recognizable brand. There should be an audit in place that monitors, at the most basic level, the ambiance of a facility. Unfortunately, it does not seem like Wyndham has that in place. Or if they do, it is not working.

    We understand that a 3 star hotel is not going to rank high on the hospitality or customer centricity barometer. But how low should be accepted?

    Do these images looks like a 3 star hotel to you?

    Organizational Culture and Access to Information

    By and large, people perceive culture as an HR discipline. The most common perception is that culture covers the soft side of performance. Culture is about how you do things, not so much about what you do. This approach to culture could not be more wrong. In fact, organizational culture is about so much more than a few words in a performance review sheet.  It is about leaders expressing values, and the action guidance their cultural behaviors provide.

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