When it comes to keeping your customers and clients happy, things don’t always go according to plan. Stuff happens … deliveries are delayed, products don’t work exactly as intended, and your service falls short in one or more areas. So, no matter how hard you try, the unfortunate truth is that things will go wrong! Which is why I’ve always said that it’s not bad customer service that makes or breaks an organization, it’s the quality (or lack) of their service recovery that makes the difference. It’s how your staff react and respond to a customer’s problem or complaint that will decide whether you now have a disgruntled customer (who will likely tell many more via social media) or a raving enthusiastic fan. I have blogged in the past about how some companies don’t understand this fundamental reality of service recovery, most recently when writing about the Royal Bank.
But in today’s blog post, I want to go in the other direction – I want to tell you about an organization, and more specifically, one of their employees, who gets it! Samantha Scott is the Guest Services Manager at the Delta Hotel in Burnaby BC, my hotel of choice when I work in the Vancouver area. And something happened last week that reinforced why I choose to stay at this hotel, again and over again.
Is there a gym above me?
At about 9 PM on Tuesday night, an endless racket began in the room above me. It sounded like my room was placed directly beneath a gym – I could hear furniture moving, what I thought were weights being dropped, and what seemed like an endless skipping rope, thumping against the floor. Eventually, shortly after 10 PM, I called the front desk, and Samantha answered the phone.
“Is there a gym directly above me?” I asked.
“No, Ms Gupta,” said Samantha, “Why?” So I told her.
“Of course we’ll have them quiet down,” said Samantha. “It’s past 10 PM and we ask all our guests to respect quiet hours.”
Unfortunately the noise continued; instead of lessening, it actually seemed to be worsening. So about half an hour later, I called again.
“It hasn’t stopped?” asked the person who answered the phone. “My sincere apologies, we’ll address it right away.”
In fact, it wasn’t till almost 11:20 PM that the noise finally died down. While I was a little peeved, I was just grateful to finally drift off to sleep.
It’s all about the service recovery!
The next day when I returned to the hotel after a day working with clients, I stopped by the front desk to inquire whether the same guests were still resident in the room above me. The gentleman I spoke to not only apologized again, but assured me that the offending guests had checked out of the hotel. Satisfied that I wouldn’t have another late night, I went up to my room.
And much to my surprise, I found a small gift waiting for me – an artfully-designed plate of bite-sized fruits and chocolate accompanied by a hand-written card.
I wanted to apologize for the disturbances and noise above your room last night. Thank you so much for your patience and understanding. I hope this did not affect your sleep and I hope you’ve had a wonderful day. Please call Guest Services if we can enhance your stay or make you more comfortable. -- Samantha
Stuff happens! In the hotel business, it’s probably not unusual for staff to have to deal with noise issues. But it’s the service recovery after the problem that really makes the difference! Sure, a fruit-and-chocolate plate with a handwritten card may seem like a small gesture, but it speaks giant volumes in terms of service recovery. It certainly made a difference to me. Samantha Scott grasps the fundamental reality that it’s how an organization and its people react and respond to a customer’s problem that separates a disgruntled from a loyal customer, and she’s likely very good at making sure that her staff understand this as well.
Bravo, Guest Services team at the Delta Burnaby! Your exceptional service recovery now means that I’m an enthusiastic fan. And I look forward to my next visit!
Are you making sure that your customer service missteps result in raving fans (rather than disgruntled customers)? Perhaps more importantly, what are you doing to ensure that your people understand this fundamental reality to building customer loyalty? Would love to hear your stories of the people in organizations who get this, and those who don’t.