In a recent article, I negatively criticized a hotel for charging me on things I felt should have
been part of the high price of the hotel. They “nickel and dimed” me. I received several
comments. A few of our readers criticized me for being so negative, but all of them felt that
the charge for using a towel at the workout facility—after they were already charging me an
extra fee to be there—was excessive.
As I thought about the comments, something became obvious. With the exception of the
charge for the towel, any of the extra charges by themselves would not have seemed that
excessive. Was it the cumulative effect of all of them? Yes and no. It was actually one
thing, most likely the towel charge, that was the “tipping point” that caused my dislike for this
hotel. I would have accepted the charge for toll-free phone calls. I would have even accepted
the charge for the workout facility. But it was the extra charge for the towel that made me
start to pick apart everything about the hotel. That is the real lesson here.
Customers will put up with a lot of negative stuff. They shouldn’t have to, but they will.
However, at some point, they get fed up with it all. What causes that to happen? It is usually
just one thing that put it over the top—one thing that causes the scales to tip in the wrong
direction. Then, the customers start looking at everything. The things they would have
tolerated before become unacceptable. One thing causes a cumulative breakdown.
So, let’s look at a story about a different experience at a hotel. Just last night I arrived in
Orlando and went to the Portifino Hotel. My flight was late and I showed up late to my client’
s cocktail reception. The staff had already taken away most of the food, however, one of the
servers noticed me looking for something that might have been left on the buffet table.
This gentleman informed me that all the food had been taken away, but please wait just a
moment or two. Within a few minutes, he brought me a huge plate with a sample of most
everything that was on the buffet. I couldn’t even eat it all. Wow!
I then walked over to the bar, which was being closed down. I asked for a glass of water and
was told they had taken all the drinks away, however, wait just a moment. Within a minute or
two the bartender came back with two bottles of spring water. I was appreciative—and
My experience at this hotel started out just great. They put me into the right mindset of what
to expect from their staff. I appreciated and respected their efforts. They won my trust and
my loyalty. I knew the Portifino was an excellent hotel. Just moments after walking through
their doors I became impressed with their high level of service. The bellmen and doormen all
welcomed me and asked if they could help me. The guest reception checked me in quickly,
and one of their people led me to the room where the client was hosting the reception. They
paid attention to opportunities to take care of and impress their guest. They were proactive in
that they tried to respond before they were even asked. So what if the bar was closed, it
wasn’t a big deal to get a guest a bottle of water. And, there was lots of food that was taken
back to the kitchen at the end of the reception. How hard was it to bring a plate out to a guest
that arrived late? Not very!
Here is the lesson: Set the customer’s expectations. Meet them—maybe even exceed them—right away! Do it as soon as possible. This sets the tone for the rest of the customer’s
experience. The key is to continue to meet and exceed expectations. That is what great service is all about!
Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, professional speaker and New York Times bestselling business author. For information contact (314)692-2200 or www.hyken.com. For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs go to www.thecustomerfocus.com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken