In search of an odd-sized air-filter, Darlene had a customer experience on one end of the spectrum.During a lunch break, she and a friend headed to the neighborhood big-box hardware outlet where a courteous clerk pointed to aisle 10, containing a large inventory of air-filters, certain to include the size she sought.  The two found the inventory; but alas, no 12 X 12 filter — the sought after size.  Darlene’s friend, ever the optimist, suggested they order the filter from the store, save shipping costs, and pick it up in a few days.  Ever the skeptic, Darlene was not hopeful as they headed out, searching for assistance.

Reaching the front of the store, they encountered the same courteous gent that had directed them to aisle 10.  An observant soul, he commented “You are empty handed.”  Darlene, offering the clerk the opportunity to win, informed him “we didn’t find any 12 X 12.”

The clerk — the face of the company to these two shoppers, the marketing-team-of-the-moment — given a pretty easy opportunity to enhance the brand of the retailer, replied with an articulate “Wow! Out? Well I don’t know what to tell you!”  No “hey, how about we order you a supply right now!”

Unwilling to reward this level of service by providing a clue as to the ideal marketing/customer service response, the two women left the store.  An on-line experience would be more rewarding.

That’s one end of the customer experience spectrum.  At the other end, a recent hotel visit.

I had checked in for a conference; but a killer headache made it impossible for me to think of anything other than taking a couple of Advil.  After getting to my room and rifling my suitcase and backpack, I came up empty.  Only one solution: the hotel sundries store.

As I headed down the hall I passed an elevator and almost ran into a bellman pushing his luggage cart.  “Good afternoon, sir.  How is your stay so far?”

I replied something to the effect that I’d be better as soon as I found some Advil, and inquired as to directions to the sundries store.

The short version of the story is that this bellman, having bumped into a guest in HIS hotel with a headache, insisted on fetching appropriate medication, and delivering it to my room.

The difference in these two experiences?  An organization that understands that everyone is a marketer — a company that underscores the value of every touchpoint.

Simply put, the hotel believes, and teaches employees that anyone or anything that intersects with the guest experience is an opportunity to market, to enrich the brand, and to seed loyalty.

I’ve told that story dozens of times to scores of travelers, meeting planners and customer experience enthusiasts.  And I’ll tell it hundreds more times before my memory begins to fade.

The organization that isn’t investing in every intersection with a client / customer — from retail to B-to-B, and yes, even professional service groups — from sales exec to consultant to the clerk or bellman — hasn’t learned one of the basic realities of the new marketplace: everyone in the organization is a member of the marketing team.