The classic rom-com movie from 1990 tells the story a bored, but very wealthy man (Richard Gere), called Edward Lewis, who is looking for purpose in life. He meets a street prostitute (Julia Roberts), called Vivian. He needs some company to fill the void in his life and also to pose as a company in a few business events. Over the interaction he realizes that she is a lot more than street prostitute, but a lovely young lady full of dreams. They fall in love with each other as expected from a romantic comedy. Given the context of the movie, mostly in a hotel, there are many Customer Experience aspects to be analyzed.
1) Valet Service Sequence:
Edward is upset trying to leave a party at his lawyer’s house, however his limo is stuck behind a bunch of cars parked by the Valet Service hired by the host. The CX issue here is that when you hire a Service to improve the Experience of the people involved, in this case guests, but could well be Customers, you have to make sure the service contracted fits the specific characteristics of the place where it is being carried out. It must be adjusted to the reality of the scenario, in a way that the convenience delivered by the Valet Service is not overcame by the bad Experience of wanting to leave and not being able because your car is stuck. In the movie Edward grabs his lawyer’s car and drives himself, which proved to be a disaster, figuratively speaking, although it could well have been an actual disaster. The message here is to make sure you understand the overall impact of your offering to the Customers, not looking only to the immediate benefit, but the entire Customer journey, considering the possible consequences, allowing the Customers to enjoy the full Experience with no setbacks.
2) Arriving at the Hotel Sequence:
In this sequence Edward picks Vivian up while she is on the street trying to find a Customer, but he hires her just to give him directions to his hotel. She drives him to the hotel and when they arrive, she does not try to force the sale of her other services. This is a very important sales technique that is based on a basic concept of Customer Experience. People love to buy, but most people do not like the pressure to make the purchase. They don’t want you to sell to them. They want to feel in control, making the decision. During the ride, Vivian demonstrated what she was capable of in terms of the Experience Edward could have. She made him feel comfortable, but curious and when they arrived, she finished the activity she was hired for, so she left without forcing an up-sale. This is what attracted Edward the most, as his profile is of someone that is always in control. The message here is to figure out what is your Customer’s profile, understand how he/she sees value and get the Customer to decide without pressure. The pressure always makes the Experience worse and likely the last. The Customer will always think twice whether they actually did a good deal or not.
3) Champagne Delivery Sequence:
In this sequence Edward asks for a champagne to be delivered in his room and the room service guy comes in, puts the champagne over the bar, but he does not leave. He waits for the tip. He created a very awkward situation with Vivian, because she did not know she had to give him a tip, as this is not part of her life. Edward stands up and goes to her rescue, giving the room service guy the tip he expected. The message here is that the service has to be delivered not expecting the Customer to have the obligation to offer a tip. If the Customer feels like it, then ok, but if not, waiting for the tip makes the situation embarrassing and makes clear to the Customer that your interest is not serving him/her, but to get the tip. Customers want to feel special, but when the tip talks louder, they don’t feel special at all. They do not feel like they are having an amazing Experience, but they are simply paying someone to deliver something.
4) Shopping Sequence (1st) :
In this sequence Vivian is given money by Edward for her to buy some “conservative” cloths for them to have dinner together. Wearing her “work clothes” she gets into a very fancy store at Rodeo Drive, in LA, one of the most sophisticated shopping places in the world and the sales ladies in the store judge her by her clothes and refuse to serve her and actually asked her to leave the store, even though she had the money to pay and truly wanted the clothes that they could sell. She then left, feeling very bad because the way she was treated. The message here is that not all Customers look the same and very frequently wealthy people dress in different ways. You never know the purchasing power of a potential Customer just judging their clothes or manners. Even if the potential Customer actually cannot afford what you have to sell, you have to consider that one day that Customer may have the resources to afford your product or service, but most of all, these days (not in the 1990’s when internet was not as it is today), the Customers that feel bad about the service, will tell a lot of people and will likely go to the social media to make a campaign against your brand, which can damage its image. In summary, always treat any potential Customer as a current Customer, treating them with respect and giving them the chance to learn by themselves that they cannot afford what you are selling, if that is the case. On the other hand, treating a weirdly looking Customer well, making them feel good and getting them to purchase what they desire, will likely differentiate you from the others and that Customer will talk about your amazing service and will likely become loyal due to the respect with which they were treated. A lot of wealthy but simple Customers suffer with bad service because of their appearance and you can make them shine, which will gain their love for your brand.
5)Shopping Sequence (2nd) :
This sequence is the continuation of the previous one. Vivian is taken by Edward to a store and makes clear that they have to serve her very well, as they are going to spend an obscene amount of money there, reason why they need to treat her like a queen. Vivian buys a lot of amazing and sophisticated clothing and she does not resist the opportunity to get inside the store that did not want to serve her the previous day to show how good she looks now and how big of a mistake they made, because she will not spend any money there and the ladies that did not want to wait on her will not collect those great commissions they could have got. The message here is that the Customer does not forget. According to Disney, for every bad experience a Guest has, they need to deliver 37 great experiences for the Customer to forget that single bad one. Don’t under estimate the power of a bad experience, neither the damage it can cause to your business and to your brand. Every Customer, if given the chance, will behave just like Vivian.
6)Chat with the Hotel Manager Sequence :
In this sequence the hotel manager sees this Vivian walking around the hall of the hotel and is concerned about the impact her image could cause to the other Customers and invites her to a little conversation at his office. He wants to make clear to her that his hotel does not allow professionals like her. He was always respectful, even with someone that clearly did not fit in there. He very quickly realized that she was there because their best Customer (Edward) wanted her to be there. While talking to her he says “We like to see our special guests like Friends” and he completes by saying “as a guest we would expect Mr. Lewis to sign in any additional guests, but as a friend we are willing to overlook it”. After getting his message clear, he realizes that Edward needs her looking stunning but this will not happen if she was left to her own resources. He arranges for a certain store to take care of her. The message here is that even knowing that she was a prostitute, he treated her with respect, for 3 reasons. First because he is in fact a very polite man, second because causing a scene would call the attention of other guests to her, potentially damaging the image of the hotel and third because he knew that Edward would value what he was doing for them. He gave the special Customer what he needed and at the same time found a great business opportunity to someone of his network, growing his political capital. He also fixed his problem with her clothing, making it easier to manage the situation with the special Customer without disrupting the Experience of other Customers. He was very smart and effective on clearing the situation and making everyone happy. Sometimes the easy answer (kick her out of the hotel) is not the most advantageous. He made a juice out of the lemon that was thrown at him. Delivering Great Customer Experiences sometimes requires more complex solutions, but it pays off.
7)Hotel Manager Teaching Vivian :
The hotel manager also realized that he could do more for her. At this point, more than just helping on the Experience of a special Customer, he actually was able to empathize and go far beyond his call of duty. He helped her to behave well at the table, which Edward may never know he has done that, but the legitimate interest on seeing her grow was enough for him to take action and it was easy to see that he was happy to see her thrive. The message here is that sometimes, delivering Great Customer Experiences require us to go beyond our job description and actually get personally involved, so that the solutions we provide don’t only make the Customers happy, but ourselves as well.
This movie is filled with Customer Experiences for us to explore, but we will stay with the ones above. We hope you enjoyed learning how CX goes to Hollywood.