Something was different about this hotel experience. It seemed they really wanted to enhance customer performance—which, in this case, was my getting a good night's sleep.

As I stepped off the elevator, an interesting sign came into view. It said I was assigned to a Quiet Floor. It promised that housekeeping and maintenance activities would not start before 10:00 AM and not continue after 9:00 PM. It also promised that families with children, trade groups, marching bands, and circus animals would not be assigned to this floor.

But that wasn't all. The sign also asked for my help in making the floor quiet. It asked that I keep TV and radio volume low, prevent the door from slamming, and not sing too loudly in the shower.

As I opened the door to my room, I quickly noticed some odd things. On the bed were a mesh bag and a cardboard CD package. I picked up the mesh bag and examined its contents—eyeshades, earplugs, and a bottle of lavender sheet spray. The CD package had an audio CD, and the package itself had tips for getting a good night's sleep. For example, I learned that pumpkin and peaches are foods that promote sleep.

The other odd thing was that there was a CD player in the room, and it was open—inviting me to insert the CD. I did. The first two tracks were the calm voice of a sleep therapist who taught me techniques for relaxation. The remaining 60 minutes was some of the most beautiful electronic music I had ever heard.

The experience in my hotel room continued to feel like an Easter egg hunt. By the curtains was a clothespin-like device that enabled me to pin the black-out curtains shut in the middle, so that annoying thin line of light couldn't show through. I thought the room would be completely dark, but a well-designed nightlight cast an even green glow throughout the room. My choice of pillows (feather or foam) waited for me on the bed.

Did I sleep well? You bet! The room was dark, the relaxation exercises removed the day's stress, and the calming music was the lullaby to which I fell asleep the next three nights. Waking up was not a problem, either, since the hotel offered a guaranteed wake-up call.

Customer as Co-Producer

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Peter C. Honebein, Ph.D., is coauthor, with Roy Cammarano, of Creating Do-It-Yourself Customers: How Great Customer Experiences Build Great Companies. He is president of the Customer Performance Group ( and a faculty member at Indiana University and University of Nevada, Reno.