Thursday, October 18, 2012

Customer Service at the Hotel Makes or Breaks Them

We were fed up with the hotel. We had held two full-day seminars there. The third seminar was already arranged but we were planning to go elsewhere next time.

The meeting rooms were better than average. The location was convenient. The lobby was attractive. The lunches were superb. And the price was competitive. But we were planning to move our business and were even willing to pay more, because we were unhappy.

Have you noticed that unhappy customers are willing to pay more elsewhere? That’s an important marketing lesson.


Our contact person was usually difficult to reach and correspond with. She was either “on the phone”, “in a meeting”, or “not in”. She seldom returned our first call. She also seemed to often overlook our email. We followed up with her so many times that we wondered if they really wanted our business.

We were not a huge account but we had shown that we could be a regular client, (two or three times a year). And we always paid promptly.

On the day of the seminars the contact person did not show up to greet us or even check on things. In fact the only staff who came to the room were the serving staff. They were efficient but not very friendly. No representative from the hotel checked in with us at any time to see if things were okay or if there were any changes.

After the meeting, there was no call from the hotel to ask for feedback or thank us for our business.

At the previous meeting, the serving staff had removed the sandwiches along with the desserts immediately after lunch. I thought that strange because some people like to have their dessert snack a little after lunch. I also like to have a sandwich at the end of the day because I'm usually famished after a full day of conducting a seminar.

Lucky for the hotel something changed. They got rid of the old and hired new people.

Amazing how that can change the customer experience!

The new contact person was cheery and easy to connect with. She came looking for us early in the day to introduce herself and welcome us. She appeared later to check on our needs and experience.

When we broke for lunch 30 minutes early, the chef rushed to provide our sandwiches and wraps. And they were superb.

When lunch was done, the server asked if we wanted the leftover sandwiches and wraps. “Yes, that would be nice.” was our reply.
“Well you paid for them so I’ll package them all up for you.”
They nicely packaged up all the leftover lunch and desserts in ‘take out' trays.
Instead of making us feel like thieves for having a sandwich later or taking a dessert home – they made us feel special by packaging it all up for us like presents.

So guess what? We plan to go back to this hotel for our next seminar.

Here’s the marketing lesson for you: If you are in the service business – nothing trumps customer service when it comes to keeping customers!

Before you spend a dollar on advertising and branding – ensure that you have the right people with the right attitude. That includes your management, because a good service culture starts with them.

Once your have the right people, provide them with the training, leadership and rewards to deliver superior customer service.

If you do that, you will save a fortune on advertising and branding because your customers don’t care about that. The only people that care about your advertising and branding are those in your marketing department.

Your customers care about service. Customers are funny that way.

George Torok Keynote Marketing Speaker Co-author of Secrets of Power Marketing
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