Friday, March 22, 2013

Chocolates On The Pillow Aren't Enough

The Chairman of Loews Hotels tells the reader how to please the customer in Chocolates On The Pillow Aren't Enough. As the long-time chief executive of the luxury hotel chain, Tisch likely has a number of insights he can share about how Loews has identified ways to further connect with its customers and their wallets.

Unfortunately, these insights are not in this book. I was hoping for some depth on a number of innovations Loews has pioneered: how they came up with them, how they tested them, how they measured the results. This book contains none of that. Instead, the book is wide on breadth and low on depth.

Tisch briefly discusses a number of companies that have tried and succeeded (in most cases) to improve the customer experience. He uses these examples to illustrate a number of lessons for the reader, from how to welcome customers to how to provide security in a non-intrusive way to how to customize. Each lesson is summarized with a number of suggestions on improving a business' relationship with its customers, derived from these case studies.

There just wasn't a lot to these lessons in my opinion. They appeared to be mostly made up of derivations of "Do things that are successful" and "Don't do things that fail". Unfortunately, one can't tell what's going to be successful and what isn't, and in my opinion this book does not help one improve on that process. For example, Starbucks' foray into non-core activities is discussed as a method to keep its business growing. Some of these initiatives have failed, and some have succeeded. Tisch's lessons are (with my critiques below):

"The world's biggest brands are about more than just a great product" - Well, yes, but how is one to determine which new categories fit and which don't?

"It takes time, money, and a willingness to gamble to expand into a brand new business arena" - Not exactly great insight here.

"One key to success on a new business frontier may be buying the experience you need" - Yes, it may. Or, it may be a colossal failure. How about some thoughts on when M&A is appropriate?

"The perfect delivery system for one product may or may not work for a different product" - Shoot me.

If there are readers like me who are interested in a book heavy on experimentation with respect to what works on customers and what doesn't, I strongly recommend the book Why We Buy by Underhill. Note that Underhill's book is only focused on retailers, however.

Happy reading!

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