A pleasant chilly morning greeted me as I woke up from my cozy bed at an Airbnb Serena Way, Santa Clara. It was my first night after a long flight and I was a bit jet-lagged. Weather was very different as compared to what I experience in Pune where summer temperatures were higher than usual. California is my favorite destination for business and pleasure. I always look forward to being there, mainly because of the climate and meeting people who are associated with the innovation hub of the world. I like everything about that place except one thing that India has in abundance, and it ‘s hard to beat that; “The sense of hospitality and human connectedness.” I had always seen people there, so rude and process focused while keeping to themselves all the time. I always wondered how innovation came from such adherence of standards and processes. I did not expect things any different this time too when I checked in the Airbnb advertised property on Serena way in Santa Clara. The bed, the chill and everything around us was all about process and order. I did not expect anything more at the price I paid for that property.
It was then I met my host, Mike. He was always around and smiled back when we happened to see each other. After a couple of small pleasantries, he offered me a ride to my destination that happened to be the convention center at Santa Clara. I was worried that he might charge me for the ride. I was aware that the distance to that place was not small enough for someone to just drop us there if they were not passing that way. All throughout my way, I was calculating what tip I would offer him while we chatted along; but he just dropped us to our destination and drove back smiling. Within hours we forgot about his kindness. When an unknown local number flashed on my mobile, I was wondering who could that be? Mike was on the other side asking if we need to be picked up. Is there an ulterior motive behind this? I was wondering. I had never experienced such kindness that did not involve money from strangers in the US earlier. I did experience great drivers when I hailed Uber cabs there. It was certainly different to the American Taxi where the dollars raced on the meters faster than your heartbeat while drivers hardly took any interest in me as a person.
For the rest of our stay, we had everything we wanted. More important, Mike was right there when we needed him. He used to strike small friendly conversations with us and through those swiftly elicit our preferences and expectations. The stay suddenly became very pleasant and started inching towards being memorable. We experienced absolutely a new level of customer satisfaction. Mike did not have any gadgets or fancy attires, or even the place of stay was not out of the world, but the human element and the way he understood our expectations made all the difference.
I was in Santa Clara to finalize the finer points of the startup venture my company was planning to come up with in the field of customer experience. I wanted to give back my gratitude to Mike for demonstrating that to provide an awesome customer experience, digital technology is no differentiator without human element involved in understanding your customers. I could not find a better way to thank his hospitality and decided to name my new venture “Serena Way.” My experience at Serena Way, will always remind me of how human touch combined with digital experience can be the best way to provide the ultimate customer experience. And that learning is what my venture “Serena Way” will incorporate while solving customer experience related problems for businesses globally.
Alok Kumar, Founder Serena Way