Good Customer Service is Easy

We in the disciplines get to spoil our customers by providing them with excellent service whether they know it, like it or care.  Heck, sometimes they're not even conscious.

So it can be particularly frustrating when another industry has no clue about customer service.  Especially when they are in the "hospitality industry."

The family and I made a weekend out of a few fun activities just over an hour from home so I booked a mid range "suite" from a National brand hotel for just one night.

Apparently "suite" just means there's a microwave and fridge in the room nowadays.  No place to sit and eat,  but it was clean and safe so we made do.  After checking out and making a late drive home, HMJrJr was in tears suddenly noticing that her doll Dolly, which comforts her to sleep, was missing and likely rolled up in the hotel sheets.

A call to the hotel the next morning had Dolly found and the wife was told that we could come pick her up or email a fed ex prepaid label and they'd handle the rest.

The label was emailed less than an hour later.

That was Monday morning.

On Tuesday the wife noticed it still hadn't shipped yet so called the hotel to see what was happening.
"Oh, the FedEx guy that comes on Mondays is the FedEx Express guy and he can't take it."


Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, still no email from FedEx that the package had been picked up so I called and asked to speak to a manager.  I instead got William.

William, as far as I could tell from our brief conversation, has no managerial training, no concept of customer service, and is likely afraid of his own shadow.

It went something like this:
"Hi William, our family stayed with you last weekend and my daughter forgot her doll.  Your folks were kind enough to box her up, I'm just wondering what the delay in sending her out is?"

"Well, Sir, we're not required to return property left in the rooms."

Already he's trying to put me on defense as if to say "You're lucky we didn't throw it away."

"I understand that William but there it is, we paid for the label, all your folks need to do is walk it into any FedEx store and we're done.  Perhaps someone can be let go a few minutes early today and drop it on the way home?"
"Don't make assumptions about my employees.  They don't leave early."

Assumptions.  Clearly he has no intention of taking this box anywhere.  I'd wager at this point the only way he'd move that box is if his paycheck were underneath it.

I went from dad mode to Captain mode in about 0.0005 seconds.

"Assumptions aside, I assumed your hotel would see this as an easy opportunity to make a sad little girl happy again.  Yes we left it, but the solution currently stalled was your idea."

"I wasn't here that day so I can't speak to that.  It isn't our policy."

Here is where fearful persons in positions of authority go to hide when things get complicated.  "It wasn't me, so I can't help you."

I went on to ask William if there were any employees who take a lunch at the nearby shopping center where the FedEx is or perhaps if the airport shuttle driver could swing it by and drop it off real quick on one of the "every 15 minute" roundtrips they make.  Imagine for a moment you're on the shuttle from the airport to the hotel and the driver apologizes that he needs to stop and drop off a package for a customer who forgot something left behind.  Not only would no one complain, I'd argue that the opinion of said hotel would go up immediately.

"We can't accept that responsibility, it isn't our focus" William tells me and that's when I went from Captain mode to angry father.

"Customer service isn't your focus?  Here's what's going to happen, Manager William, I'm going to hang up the phone and you're going to take that box, with the label your company told me to pay for and you're going to do what you should have done on Monday afternoon, have one of your folks drop it off 2 minutes away and solve this problem. If it doesn't ship today I'll be there tomorrow in your lobby to register my complaint in person and you don't want that. I think we've wasted enough of each other's time.  Good day."

I hung up.  I didn't hear his reply.  The wife was upset that the box would disappear.

Early the next morning her phone received message after message after it woke up from a night on silent.  There was a package on the front porch.  We got Dolly back.  Apparently our label and proximity to the hotel meant overnight delivery.

Imagine that.

Now imagine William sees the package and drops a little note inside about how the doll wanted to stay an extra night, got lonely and is glad to be home and sent it on Monday.  Tuesday morning we wake up to the lost doll and a note from an actual Manager who understands how the simplest little things can make the biggest difference and he earns not only an email to corporate, but a return customer.  And it took them the same 2 minutes.

Good customer service is easy.