Customer Service Lesson I arrived to check in at one of my favorite New York City hotels, only to be disappointed that the hotel was under extensive renovation. Instead of walking into a beautiful lobby, a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle on the street, I experienced unfinished construction and the smell of sawdust and […]
I arrived to check in at one of my favorite New York City hotels, only to be disappointed that the hotel was under extensive renovation. Instead of walking into a beautiful lobby, a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle on the street, I experienced unfinished construction and the smell of sawdust and paint. Their cool and trendy bar that was usually packed with “beautiful people,” was temporarily cut down to about a quarter of its size with very few customers.
As I approached the front desk, the always friendly staff greeted me with a smile. It was hard to be upset with the situation when the staff was so friendly and upbeat. Still, there was internal confusion in my mind. I had planned to invite my group back to the hotel for a drink later that night, and I could tell this wasn’t going to be the experience that I had planned for. Should I try and find another hotel or stay here?
I made my mind up to stay. The people were still the same. The front desk clerk who checked me in even recognized me from a prior visit. The staffs’ smiles and positive attitudes did a lot to make up for the shortcomings of the hotel.
Yet in spite of those great attitudes, this wasn’t a problem that they could smile about, apologize for and then fix right away. Every time I walked back into the hotel I experienced a negative reaction to the extensive renovations. Their sign that said, “We apologize for the inconvenience while we make our hotel a better place,” wasn’t working for me. And I think I know why.
Had the hotel informed me about the renovations ahead of time, I would have had the opportunity to choose to stay there or find another hotel before I arrived. And, my “inconvenience,” as they called it, was not reflected in the price that I was being charged. It was the same price as usual. And, for that same price, I could have stayed at one of the many other hotels in the area that were just as nice. By the way, upon checking out of the hotel, the front-desk staffer did a minor adjustment on my bill. A little sugar to help make the medicine go down. She expressed appreciation for me staying, in spite of the construction, and hoped I would return.
Will I return? Yes, and here is why. As mentioned, the staff was friendly, apologetic and empathetic to the situation. Their attitudes made things better. And, that is very important. Also, we have a relationship. The front desk staff recognized me from my last visit. While they couldn’t fix the problem on the spot, I have a positive past experience and relationship with the hotel, and the staff’s attitude is always positive. That’s enough to earn them another chance. Still, when I make my next reservation, I’ll ask about renovations and construction. And even if I’m told they are finished, until I get there, I won’t know for sure.
As I think about this story, there are several lessons we can learn from it. When the consistent and predictable experience becomes inconsistent and unpredictable, consider the following:
Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, keynote 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
(Copyright © MMXV, Shep Hyken)
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