Monday, November 07, 2011

Customer Service Rests With Every Employee -- Every Time

Twenty years ago I attended a conference at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington DC.  I was part of the program (although this was long before I was a Professional Speaker and Corporate Trainer).  My room was to be paid by the organization, but when I checked in, this was not reflected on my reservation.

The front desk clerk was very rude.  I was not about to commit to paying for six nights on my credit card and wanted to get the issue resolved.  There was a long line of guests waiting to check in, and she was clearly flustered with the situation.  I asked for a manager, or someone who could assist, and she essentially told me to pay up - or leave.  Then she looked over my shoulder and screamed "NEXT".... as if I had vanished into thin air.

I continued to try to get her attention and she ignored me.  I was invisible.

Eventually the event organizer took care of the situation, but I have never forgotten that experience.  Being a customer who does not matter is the worst feeling in business.

Last week I was the keynote speaker for a conference at the same hotel.  As I walked in the lobby my stomach turned as the memory of that horrible customer experience of more than two decades ago returned to my mind.

Happily, the front desk clerk who checked me in this time had a different attitude on how to treat guests in his hotel.  From the moment I approached the counter he was enthusiastic, helpful, and exemplified all that is wonderful about the hospitality industry.  His name is Evan... and the Omni Shoreham should be proud to have him at the front desk.  He offered me choices of rooms, talked to me about restaurant options in the area, and took an interest in making sure my experience at this grand hotel would be spectacular.

This reminds me that the experiences our customers have can be fully weighted on the actions of a single employee.  I am sure that my visit twenty years ago involved many other helpful employees, but they did not make enough of an impression to replace the one who ruined my impression of the whole hotel.

Flash forward two decades and Evan erased that first memory and showed me that the Omni Shoreham is a wonderful place to stay when visiting our nation's capital.  His actions, attitude and customer focus impacted everything.

Customer service rests in the hands of every employee every time.  One bad apple can spoil the whole batch... but just one "Evan" can make your reputation shine!

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

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