It all began an evening in '97 when I was out at a company dinner in Hyderabad. We were at The Viceroy Hotel. It was a beautiful evening: we watched the Hussain Sagar lake, indulged in raucous banter and enjoyed a lot of sinfully good food. It truly was a great evening. At the end of the meal, along with the check was a survey.
Given that I seldom lack an opinion, I jumped at the chance to tell the Hotel just how much I enjoyed the evening. I also put in my name, address and birthday, leaving the anniversary section blank. I was curious to see if and how they'd use my contact information.
A few months later, my birthday rolls around - and guess what? I get a card from The Viceroy! I was thrilled to bits - until I open the card and read the message. Here's what it said:
Mr. Dasgupta - Best wishes on your anniversary etc.
Mr. Dasgupta? MISTER Dasgupta???? Hell-o-o - that's my Dad, not me!!! I'd be less critical if this happened in foreign country, though it does irk me then to see people use the "Mr." as a default... But this card had to have been processed by people from the same country and culture as I! Even if they had not asked me my gender, how hard is it too divine that Archita would merit a "Ms." (AND DO NOT ASSUME MRS!) versus a Mr.??? And Happy anniversary?! Granted a birthday is an anniversary of sorts, but can we stick with the traditional greeting, please?
My verdict: 2 out of 6 stars
It would have boded The Viceroy better had the not sent me a greeting at all. Their attempt to get on my radar and ensure my repeated patronage totally misfired. If you think it's too much for me to ask that you know me before you send me a communication, then please - do not send me any communications! After all, when you are trying to connect with your customer, the itty-bitty, tiny details do matter.
"Why give them a star at all?" - is that what I hear you ask? Well, that's Prof. Gould (my Marketing Research Prof.) speaking, really. Got to face it - Viceroy did get some things right:
- It asked me for my feedback and contact info.
- It obviously stored my contact info.
- It contacted me on the appropriate date
Which means that if they put in a little bit more of an effort, they can do brilliantly well. They need to:
- Capture my gender
- And if I decline, go with a generic "Dear Patron" sorta salutation
- Or just address me as Archita!
And please - if I provide you with a date, remember what I said it was!!! Given that I was single when the card came my way, it bothered me even more.
Just a few simple changes, and this would have been a really pleasant example of relationship-building/ direct marketing, especially since such a practice was still nascent in India back in '97...
I wonder what The Viceroy - and other organizations in India are doing to build a one-on-one bond with their customers these days... For the record: I won't hesitate to go to The Viceroy if/ when I get a chance... I love that city, I really like the hotel and its restaurant - and I'd love to see if The Viceroy will make a more earnest attempt to delight me this time around.