Customer Service Innovation: W Hotel, Hong Kong

Posted on Sunday, 24 Apr 2011

Billie is clearly a thought leader - a true innovator when it comes to customer service innovation at the W Hotel in Hong Kong.

W Hotel Customer Service Innovation 

He describes himself in this note as a welcome ambassador at the W Hotel in Hong Kong, whose mantra is 'whatever, whenever'. In an age where many organisations are outsourcing their customer service to foreign countries, the W Hotel gets that it needs to combine both digital and analogue ways of communicating with an increasingly high maintenance client. 

In my opinion, customer service is an area of business development that frequently gets overlooked when we think about innovation. We instead think of technology, social media, employment branding, thought leadership - they are all very relevant, but at the end of the day, the customer is what puts food on the table of every entrepreneur.

It is not accidental that Apple looked to the hospitality and travel industries when they imagined the feel and touch-points of its flagship Apple stores - an initiative that reversed the IT trends toward selling all technology online. It was in 5-star hotels that Apple conceived of its ideas of the concierge, the genius bar, and one-on-one coaching. While Apple looked to the Ritz-Carltons and 4 Seasons of the world, one of my favourite places to stay is the boutique W Hotel. 

The W Hotel has become famous for its extremely pedantic (in a good way) attention to detail, it calls its staff 'welcome ambassadors' and 'talent' (see note above), and its concierges go beyond the expected in looking after its guests. They really live the mantra of 'whatever, whenever' in a similar way that Apple has lived its mantra of 'Think Different'. Walking your talk may not seem like an innovation, but in an age of transparency and often lacking authenticity, I believe that doing the things your competitors won't is an innovation in and of itself.

The context for Billie's note (btw Billie who is an aspiring artist drew himself so that we'd recognise him at the counter...) is that we had asked him to recommend and book a couple of restaurants for us. After returning from a great day at Lamma Island in Hong Kong where we enjoyed a delicious lunch, our room was graced with chocolates and an envelope with this card and a hard-copy, analogue map with hand-written and coloured indexes created by Billie to indicate his recommendations and their locations in Hong Kong's SoHo district.

Billie Man is just one of many instances of W Hotel's obsessive attention to detail and ensuring their guests are over the moon with their service - something I can tell you that I always am when staying at this home-away-from-home. I think this blog is evidence of how customer service innovation is also a great form of marketing, as their message now carries across by word-of-mouth but also word-of-mouse.

So, how are you going to ride this innovation trend of creating the next paradigm in customer service innovation?