This week I had the honor of moderating a Customer Spotlight with Best Western. For those unfamiliar with our Customer Spotlight program, it’s an opportunity to simultaneously strengthen employee and customer engagement by providing a cross-section of IWCO Direct employees the ability to learn first-hand about a client’s business directly from the client. In turn, it gives the client a better sense for the number of people at IWCO Direct who are dedicated to making their direct mail programs run smoothly. We ask a set of questions about our client’s business, and then the tables turn, with the client posing questions or challenges to IWCO Direct. There is also an opportunity for members of the audience to ask questions.
More than 80 IWCO Direct employees made a reservation to participate in the Best Western Customer Spotlight, including team members in operations, client service, sales, creative, marketing, accounting, finance, business services and human resources. CEO Jim Andersen and President Joe Morrison were also in attendance.
Tammy Lucas, Managing Director of Marketing Programs at Best Western, kicked-off the Spotlight by stating how rare it is to see a company going to such lengths to continue improving themselves and their customer’s experience. She also remarked that it was an eye-opening and humbling experience to see the faces of so many individuals who were not only interested in hearing about Best Western’s experience, but involved in the project in so many different ways. She said it made her remember how crucial a strong team is and how no one can do anything alone.
During the Customer Spotlight, Tammy explained that the structure of Best Western is unique in the hotel industry. Each hotel is independently owned, and all owners are given a vote when it comes to company decisions. This puts Best Western executives in a position where they are not only working to impress and exceed expectations for their hotel customers, but also the hotel owners. With approximately 2,200 Best Western facilities in the U.S. alone, gaining owner approval of any sort of marketing plan can be a lengthy process. IWCO Direct has had the challenge of creating direct marketing campaigns that appeal to a large crowd while creating a very quick turnaround in order to stay on trend with their marketing techniques.
Our Creative Services team was credited with landing and keeping Best Western’s business. Quick response and customer care were also cited as being a few of our best features. Tammy also remarked on the friendly and helpful attitudes of IWCO Direct’s employees – a culture that matches the family-like atmosphere at Best Western.
Tammy didn’t take it easy on us though! She challenged us to continue pushing the envelope on innovation and to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to direct mail strategies. She emphasized utilizing Best Western’s extensive customer data to create stronger customer loyalty by further personalizing the information sent to customers. She urged us to continue thinking of ways to reach their customers in the most cost effective way.
When the tables were turned, Best Western asked our thoughts on why direct mail remains so effective and the future of direct mail. IWCO Direct members responded that the focus is more on how paper will be used in the future as opposed to if it will be. We also touched on the importance of cross-media marketing and reaching people through multiple channels. Tammy agreed, saying that Best Western focuses on using several different means to stay in touch with their customers, knowing that people have different preferences in how they like to communicate.
Overall our Customer Spotlight with Best Western provided excellent insight for both parties. We got to learn about a valued client’s business first hand, including what we can do to continue its success, and Best Western got a glimpse into the dedication and innovation of our employees from operations to human resources. We look forward to continuing this valuable program for many years to come.
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