Like most road warriors, I have a barful of road stories to tell. Many of these, though, are great learning opportunities. Take this one from last week, for example.
I try to keep my hotel points at one of two superchains, so I have status in both their loyalty programs. I stayed in one of Brand H’s airport properties, where I had a miserable experience from beginning to end. The desk clerk insisted I had no reservation, despite my showing it to them on their phone app. (Fortunately, there was a room available.) Rather than find a way, he made me prove I had a reservation before he found a room was available. If I had just shown up for my first stay ever at Brand H and asked for a room, I would have been given one. My responsibility to prove I had a reservation?
An associate was driving from home and we were to meet around 630 and head out to the North End for dinner. But, both our trips were longer than expected, so we decided to just have some drinks and apps at the hotel bar and crash. Walking through the restaurant, I noticed the carpet was in serious need of vacuuming and tables were not bussed. I had a bad feeling about this, but we were too tired to fight. No deuces at the bar, so we went to a hi-top. The top of the table was sticky, like from spilled drinks not being cleaned up properly. The second hi-top was somewhat better, though I didn’t eat the tortilla chip I dropped on it. After a decidedly average snack, we called it a night.
When I returned home, I visited Brand H’s loyalty site and found a form to fill out (Completely Dissatisfied to Completely Satisfied) along with text boxes to tell them why. I took some time to give what I thought was sufficient detail of my experience.
Shortly thereafter, I received 2 or 3 “Sorry about your experience” emails. Then, I got a second round of emails asking for me to provide more detail about my experience. They don’t get it. They wanted me to spend more time helping them figure out their problem.
If I had received a phone call, or an email requesting a good time for one, I would have written an entirely different post here. Brand H, wanted me to spend even more time (with nothing in return) providing additional detail at the cost of my time. The customer fulfilled their responsibility by reporting poor service. It is YOUR responsibility to make it right.
Examine your process for handing customer complaints:
- Do you acknowledge the complaint quickly?
- Do you accept the responsibility for investigating it?
- Is your staff empathetic and are they good listeners?
- Are they empowered to offer a suitable “makegood” on the spot, or do they have to go through layers to make it right? (Is it easier for them to ask for forgiveness than permission to create a solution?)
Every organization will have customer service issues, so how you handle them when they happen makes the difference between someone leaving you for a competitor, or giving you referral business. Regardless of the outcome, you’ll learn a lot about your business from the most important point of view – your customer’s.