Alex Barrett
Dec 19, 2018 · 7 min read

Alex: Hi, I’m Alex from Likemoji. We’re here today in Tahoe Donner, [Truckee] California with the talented Christina Anderson. She’s Head of Marketing and Member Services for Tahoe Donner and this is the first interview in our blog series —Champions of CX. We’re here to talk with Christina about all things customer experience and she’s an expert at this so we’re really lucky to have her here.

Christina: Thank you. I’m excited to be here.

Alex: Christina right out of the gate, could you tell us a little bit about your responsibilities at Tahoe Donner on a daily basis and a little bit of background on what kind of community Tahoe Donner is and why it’s a good case study for Champions of CX.

Christina: Tahoe Donner is the second largest home owners association in the U.S. and it’s very unique being a resort community that runs about 14+ different brands.

Christina: There are a handful of different restaurants, a downhill ski-resort, the cross-country ski center where we are today and then year round and summer amenities featuring a golf course, Beach Club and Marina to name a few. Everyday on a consistent basis we’re messaging and making sure that the brand and communications are dialed and we’re increasing engagement and awareness with our members and guests across all the different offerings that we provide. In addition, I manage the Member Services team which is a very integral group to Tahoe Donner because of the fact that they provide front line customer service to our members and guests. Customer service and customer experience is very important in our everyday practices at Tahoe Donner.

Alex: Working with your team implementing Likemoji, some of the things that you’ve told me about the organization and the HOA are pretty incredible. The other day you mentioned the amount of visits that you get each year… Can you quickly touch on that?

Christina: We get about 400,000 visitors on an annual basis across all our different amenities.

Alex: That’s incredible. So, plenty of interaction with customers at many different touch points. Just to expand on that and to take a step back at the same time, it would be great to hear what you think of when we talk about the “customer experience”, what it means to you and why it’s so important to implement [management practices] in an organization like this.

Christina: Customer service is the pivotal point of everything that we do and it should always be factored in to the overall end-to-end experience that a customer or a member has with your brand.

Without a premium and memorable experience, you’re not going to have happy repeat customers. They won’t purchase your products or think highly of your brand so it’s absolutely imperative that customer service and Member-First is top of mind for us.

Alex: I imagine that would also relate to how things are dealt with on a social level in terms of feedback or spreading the word to other members and guests that visit the community. With that in mind, what do you focus on to help ensure that you have positive experiences reflected in the messaging from visitors.

Christina: Being a service based organization, Tahoe Donner employees have provided great customer service for many years but it is somewhat fractured in a sense that each brand has their own iteration of what that means. We realized over the course of the past year the we don’t have an established formal global cx program, so we are actively in the process of establishing one. It’s important for every employee to follow the same customer service standards so there’s consistency with customer. If you’re at the golf course or if you’re at the downhill ski center, you’re getting a consistent brand and customer experience. We’re in the process of heavily investing in a formal program that will roll out over the course of this next year to all of our employees, with documentation, tools and standards around what customer experience means for Tahoe Donner.

Alex: A lot of what you’re focused on revolves around activating your teams and driving a top down process through your employees directly to the customer. Could you talk a little bit about how you are doing that. What are some of the things that you think are best practices when you launch a new platform?

Christina: We want to understand what’s important to our members and how our members are experiencing Tahoe Donner.

We’re using new tools and methods to better understand our users and using those findings to influence changes in strategy and offerings.

It’s not just one department or one person that can champion customer experience, it has to be deeply ingrained in every single person that touches the business or the brand.

In the initial pilot rollout with Likemoji, what we’ve found is you really have to look at the 360 degree level and make sure that all your touch points are defined and a process is developed. This includes training internal teams, defining workflows and integrating it into daily operations as well as building awareness and adoption from users. We are finding that for this tool to be successful, our employees have to champion it and it needs to be organically integrated into the overall customer journey.

Alex: That makes perfect sense and because you’re really focused on the end customer experience, when you go back and look at things, how do you then take action on what you’ve learned from these experiences? How do you change your organization and evolve based on what you’re learning?

Christina: Most is common sense and navigation. Also, having an internal process established to assess feedback and make sure that the right stakeholders are involved in the conversation. In the past we’ve done a lot of work using very archaic feedback mechanisms and it took a long time for feedback to come in, for the data to be processed, and for teams to look at it, so with Likemoji it’s been great because it’s really allowed us to act in real time.

Alex: There are a lot of aspects of customer experience or employee experience that go beyond tracking feedback or even just engaging with the customer such as, the actual customer journey and what you’re presenting to them. Can you tell us a little bit about your vision and some of the ways you’re making a better customer experience?

Christina: Over the course of the last year and a half, we’ve been focused on helping elevate the Tahoe Donner brand and increasing engagement through more succinct communications, strategies and technology. We want to get important information to our members and our guests in a timely manner and in the right avenues. We want to make sure that we’re understanding and learning from our customers about what is important to them. Overall we have been seeing an uptick in engagement and the revenue from the different events and amenities this past year through some of the initiatives that we’ve done.

Alex: Where do you see customer experience going in the future and what do you think are some of the tactics that brands like yours should be looking for or practicing?

Christina: Our core audience is our members and ultimately with new technology, seamless experiences are extremely important. Making things convenient and easy. People are busy they don’t have a lot of time. It’s very much about putting the customer first and just making sure that we’re trying to increase engagement as well as learning from and listening to our customers.

Alex: One of the things you said is “customer first” and I think most businesses want to put the customer first or at least most good businesses do. There are certain cases where you can’t always deliver to their expectations or there are things that just don’t work out. What have you found to be helpful or impactful in those situations where you want to make sure that your customer knows that you’re there for them but it’s just not possible to meet their needs? Is there a kind of a silver lining?

Christina: I think it’s a case by case basis.

The biggest success factor for us is just being honest and transparent as much as possible with clear communication.

Christina: You’re not going to make everyone happy but giving people some understanding and background around why certain decisions or certain things are the way they are and then just being honest that something needs to be corrected helps.

Alex: I think that’s a great strategy and I think everybody appreciates honesty and being heard. Amazing having you with us, great insights into creating better CX, and I really look forward to seeing how things go as you continue to listen to members, evolve and drive better practices at Tahoe Donner!

Please post any questions or suggestions for future interviews as well as CX topics you’d like to see covered below.

Thanks for checking out the blog and see you next week!

Champions of CX

An weekly exploration with thought leaders focused on creating better experiences.

Alex Barrett

Written by

I’m an entrepreneur and founding CEO at Likemoji. I get excited about creating things, love the outdoors, music, tech, being a Dad, and building companies.

Champions of CX

An weekly exploration with thought leaders focused on creating better experiences.

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