It may seem old-fashioned but I'd like to make a plea for the written word, as in a letter mailed by the USPS. The best results that I have had in recognizing (or not) special service by Marriott associates have come when I penned (grad school and left-handedness means I can't read my handwriting so I really mean typed) a personal letter to Mr. Marriott in DC. While this may seem a bit old school, I know that he is shown the majority of them, as was his father, and that he takes the time to have someone acknowledge them over his signature. At times, the response might come from a corporate officer, but always someone in command of the issue that was being addressed in my letter.
I had suggested that Marriott Club Marquis, as I was then called up until the turn of the century, be widened to include stays at Courtyards and Residence Inns. In the older program the stays at full service Marriotts counted and no others. Courtyard had its own point system. A letter came back indicating that the program was being widened to include all properties. While I am not suggesting that the letter I wrote caused the change, it apparently resonated with those in the corporation and the change was made. Perhaps others wrote to ask the same question and make the same suggestion?
So, we're tied to instant communication, that I'll grant and I am as guilty as anyone in being a devotee of both the Internet and Internet 2.0 social networking. I continue to believe that a written letter, one that is specific, will accomplish what twenty emails cannot. The people answering your email are certainly quick and helpful but they are tasked with answering your mail with things that appear (at least in part) to be boilerplate paragraphs. No problem, but you've taken the time to make a comment and don't need wholly or partially canned responses.
My plea: if it's really important and you can, consider sending a letter to HQ in DC. I certainly use that method when it's important.
You are correct that a hand written/typed letter sent USPS to a higher level manager takes considerable effort to do and deserves careful consideration by management and is only done for extraordinary service.
My suggestion is for a much lower level of effort by Elites that recognizes more than ordinary but less than extraordinary service. Those occasions when you would like to show appreciation and the associate deserves it. But it does not warrant the effort you describe and such a letter would seem outsized for the deed.
The intent is to provide a means to show recognition in a spontaneous and immediate way that still is noted by the company. And as these accumulate, the growing number for an individual and a facility would indicate their commitment to customer satisfaction.
By providing a variety of feedback modes, Marriott can give guests a means to highlight different levels of "going the extra mile." Just as the military has a variety of medals for service "above and beyond." There should be something between a verbal thanks and a letter to Mr. Marriott. This is a suggestion for that niche.
Dear Rainbow Will
You are correct--the letter should be reserved for the most special times and the most special service. I would also recommed using the small foldover cards in the rooms for comments. Seems that the GMs do pay attention to those comments and do reward associates who are mentioned in them.
My point in the first post was that special service can be recognized by a little more effort. I was not elminating the other means of reoognition, starting with a phone call to AYS (At Your Service) during your stay, speaking with the GM or AGM in person, using the comment card, and emails. I guess I am just old enough to see email as a necessary evil, and know that I tend to scan emails for content and then delete them quickly--much to the sender's consternation, "didn't you read my email?" is their retort.
By all means, let's recognize good service as best we can and in all ways we can. Thanks!
Greetings Stepping Stones
Change management and communication in any form can be extremely effective. Both are essential 'success factors' to the rollout and launch of a new program. With the rollout of Courtyard 25 or so years ago, it was clear that Marriott was still exploring brand segmentation. You and I are in good company having written essentially about unification of standards or what Marriott now refers to today as Brand Integrity Standards. Recognizing excellence through Brand Integrity requires the corporate vision and leadership that your suggestion to write corporate pinpoints extremely well.
The Elite reaction to the rollout of the 2009 changes included many contributing factors. Marriott Rewards is a trademarked brand in the customer loyalty category. Marriott continues to take a leadership role in this category, but the 2009 changes are an example of major setbacks.
As RainbowWill suggests, feedback from sources that target the areas where operational excellence has a clear gap is necessary. For example, Marriott's attention is splintered across multiple brands some of which are NOT completely integrated in Marriott Rewards including Ritz Carlton, Nickolodean and W, the boutique hotels. Each of these brands caters to a unique segment of the market that Marriott seeks to penetrate. There is no one single customer, there are many.
In this regard, multiple lines of change management and communication are absolutely essential to recognizing operational excellence.
Great post. Thanks!
I agree and thank you all for the excellent posts--we have a strong and vibrant conversation going here--please keep it up.
Marriott is a service-oriented company, like our local In'N'Out Burgers, which have not lost their original focus and their original devotion to providing a quality prodcut at a fair price.
Our role in this is to be honest evaluators of their performance. I know they listen. I know they care. I know they see us as loyal customers and want to keep us coming back. Interestingly, the recent posts from last Fall until now complaining about the changes in the program might have had some effect, though not the one the posters intended. We've gotten their attention, that's for sure.
I know we will all continue to express our feelings to Marriott when there's good and when there's bad new to impart.
Thanks again for such thoughful words.