Concern, Aggravation, Grievance: Don’t Do This to Your Customers

I’m attending a high-end conference event at one of America’s finest resort hotels and if I shared the name of this property, most everyone would identify it as a place with a reputation for impeccable customer service.

That is what I thought too, but a funny thing happened the other day. My room didn’t get cleaned the entire day.

I was a bit surprised when I came back to my room for a little rest over lunch to find that the room hadn’t been made up. Understandable, but a bit concerning given the fact that the Hotel was not that crowded.

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I came back at 4 PM…still no service. Now, I was a bit aggravated and called the front desk. I was told that their policy is that rooms don’t have to be cleaned until 5 PM. That’s was interesting I told them because my policy is 2 PM; but it is their hotel.

When I came back at 5 after a workout, the room still wasn’t cleaned up. So much for policies, At this point, I thought it was time to talk to someone in authority.

I went down to the front desk, and spoke to Erica, the manager on duty who was very nice and explained the policy to me again. Not being very convinced, I told her that, as a customer, I went through some phases during the day from “concern”, to “aggravation” to “grievance” and could only assume that the Hotel (1) wasn’t hiring enough staff to service the rooms, (2) had established a policy I had never experienced even in my visits to low end hotels or (3) customer service wasn’t all that they purported it to be.

Erica told me that she appreciated my concerns and offered to make sure that my room was cleaned by noon tomorrow, which it was.

Now, of course, in any real world reality getting my room cleaned in a timely manner is a pretty petty issue. It doesn’t even qualify as a first world problem.

The larger issue is how this organization and your organization anticipates client’s needs and address them when you may not meet the high expectations you’ve set for yourself. Some things to consider

  • If you are setting high expectations, can you meet them?
  • Do you communicate those expectations and what is required to meet them properly to your customer so they won’t be surprised if they are not met.
  • What do you do when your customer’s needs are not met? Do you look to inform people ahead of time, address them quickly in real time or just apologize afterwards? I know my situation could have been mitigated with some signage announcing the cleaning schedule and having a door hangar that gives me the option of saying “Please clean my room.”
  • I’m mostly bothered by the fact that my remembrance of my stay at this first class property has been tarnished a bit by this incident. I’ve memorialized it in my head and on my blog. Unfortunately, you may find that your customers remember unmet needs, missed expectations, or poor service in how they view your organization rather than the ways you try to go above and beyond in some areas.

    Don’t let that happen to them and you and they will only have positive memories.

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