Is This Happening In Your Organization?

Hello Everyone

I am on my way to Istanbul to speak to Proctor and Gamble. This is a company that has been in business for 175 years and was founded on making soap and candles. They are still one of the most successful companies because they provide great products and have great leadership

I was traveling a lot for the last two weeks and had some pretty miserable service experiences. My new book coming out March 5, 2013 is titled, The Customer Rules. I found out these last couple of weeks that the customer does not rule for many organizations. Here are a few examples;

We stayed in the Hilton Hotel on the beach in Virginia Beach. Now this is a beautiful hotel and has a Four Diamond rating. We stayed there for two nights. We had a beautiful view of the ocean. All of the staff was friendly but they lacked authority. The music in the lobby is so loud you can not talk with with whomever you are with. My wife Priscilla mentioned this to the front desk and was told that is how the owner wants it.

Priscilla ordered a Continental breakfast from room service and was told it only comes with one cup of coffee. This must be the owers rule too as it makes zero sense, especially at room service prices. We went into their beautiful dining room to have dinner. Priscilla said she would like a hamburger as she had seen it on the lunch menu. She was told by the server that she could not have a burger at the table we were sitting at but if we  moved 15 feet into the bar area she could have it. The bar area has those high tables and stools which we are getting way to old to climb up on plus they are not comfortable.  We declined that idea. He then said we could move outside on the terrace. We said OK and headed that way but were told we could not sit at a regular table because that was considered part of the indoor dining room, but we could sit at the noisey uncomfortable fire pit which was out in the sun and again had hard wood uncomfortable looking seats.

We elected to go back to our first table and  decided I would eat because I had to get to a meeting and Priscilla would not. She would order her burger from room service  when we got back to the room.

The server was embarrased and said he was going to go get permission for her to get her burger. He came back and said it was approved. Give me a break…..The manager finally came over to talk with us. He bascially just muttered that in the summer it is so busy that they don’t want people to order cheap things like the burger and pizza that is available 15 feet away.

I explained to him that we were guests of the hotel and that guests should be able to get what they wanted since for two days this was our home. I think he was glad to see us leave so they could one again could get back to enforcing their rules and to hell with the customer. I am pretty sure this was not his fault. I am pretty sure it is the owers rule. There were several other service issues but I won’t bore you with all of them.

Yesterday I was driving  from Oklahoma (where I had attened my 50th high school reunion) to Dallas to catch a flight to Newark and ownward to Turkey. I stopped at the Stop and Shop at 1261 S Stemmons Freeway  in Lewisville, Texas to get gas for my rental car and ask directions to the airport. The attendant has no idea how to get to the airport and it turned out to be only 8 miles away. I am sure he gets this question many times a day. His rule is to stay uninformed. Don’t hire people like this. He said he was bad at directions. He actually has a bad attitude.

I finally found the airport and went to the Home Team Sports Bar and Grill at Gate 31 in terminal E  to have lunch. I sat down and asked for a lemonade. The bartender Belen informed they have no lemonade  and that they only have coke, diet coke and sprite, after she asked me if I wanted a Bloody Mary. I said, forget it. I won’t have any thing.

This is a bar with fresh lemons and simple syrup, ice and glasses. Belen’s rule was we don’t have lemonade. The owner lost 3.00 or so because he is letting his employees make their own rules instead of going the extra mile with a little common sense.

This morning I took a State Shuttle (name of shuttle company) from Newark to JFK. Most of the seat belts were missing or broken. I asked the driver if anyone ever checks these things. He basically mumbled something about they just disappear sometimes. I am still wondering where they go. This was the lamest excuse I have ever heard.

Are these kind of things happening in your organization? Make sure your employees understand that the customer rules and that they should do everything they can to provide exceptional service become the customer  finds a competitor who will.

Have a nice week….Lee

  1. Lee…
    Just hearing second-hand about the service level you received at the Hilton, I am stunned. I have in the past also been a diamond member (hotel stays are not as frequent these days) and I am confounded that the name Hilton, or those associated with the brand could have strayed so far from what is acceptable.

    I would share with you an excellent service recovery that Geannie and I had recently. She and I were taking the Disney Cruise from New York City to Canada. JetBlue was our airline of choice. Checking in an hour and a half early, we were told we had plenty of time. So we proceeded to security. On this particular morning, The local supvisor of the TSA thought it would be a great idea to have the trainees handle the disabled line. Well after a 45 minute examination of Geannie’s chair, we missed our flight, because the trainees did not think to call down and hold it for us. The next flight to JFK was scheduled after the ship’s departure.

    With that I frantically ran around the terminal to discover a flight into Newark. Our bags were already headed to JFK, so Geannie and I requested to be placed on the flight to Newark. We told them that Disney had representatives at Newark as well (admittedly we were not sure but know of the shuttles between the NYC airports.) they put us on the plane. The flight was rather tense. Would we get there on time? Would we lose our luggage? It was a bit nerve racking. When we landed, Geannie turned on the cell and discovered there were in fact Disney Cruise Line representatives in Newark, when we got off the plane we were greeted by a greeter from the airport, who walked us right up to a Cruise Line representative named Susan. “Hi” I started, “we had a bit of a problem in Florida….” Susan stopped me. “I know all about your problem. We have picked up your bags at JFK and aree bringing them to the port. A disabled transport is on route and will be here in 10 minutes”

    After all that I was so relieved I almost cried. I am sorry you had such a poor experience from such a respected name, but there are many great service people as well.

  2. Wow! by both articles, Disneyland is the “Happiest Place on Earth!” Every where I travel I think of you, Lee, especially when I stay at a Marriott or Hilton. Let me just say, they could use your leadership again! I am thankful for the few people who take the initiative to solve a problem. I just hired a young lady for a part-time position and I am looking for a way to offer her a full time position. I was impressed in our interview when she responded to my question to tell me about her most satisfying experience she had at her previous job. She was a night clerk for an exlusive resort here in St. George, UT. A patron came to check in and the room she had booked had been given to someone else. (It was a handicap room and the time was late at night) She took the initiative without calliing her superiors) to contact another local resort to see if they had a room available and was able to obtain a lovely handipcap room for her. She also made arrangements to transfer her luggage and make sure she was settle-in. The customer was also able to keep her points, even though she was not staying with them. It is this kind of person we want working with us at RE/MAX First Realty!

  3. Unfortunately, I am encountering more bad than good service at many establishments recently. I believe when we do experience bad service, we should make management aware of the situation. This gives them an opportunity to make the necessary changes if they have the desire to do so.

    In my business I have empowered my staff to do whatever is necessary to keep our clients satisfied. If you give the customer what they want when they need it, they will keep coming back.

    Lee, I am looking forward to your next book. I plan on buying a copy for everyone on my staff, like I did with your current book. Education is cheap, good customers (and good customer service) is priceless!


  4. Used to believe there was three levels of service bad, average, and great. After listening to you for a while now there is only two. Negative or Positive. Even average service creates a negative impact. Situations like this where there is components of bad and just average it goes together to create an unbelievable feeling like you don’t matter. When you have guests that feel like they don’t matter they just simply go away. It’s better to have upset guests because it gives you a great opportunity for recovery. But a situation like yours just makes you want to fade away and that will never create an opportunity for recovery.

    Just rereading your book and am reminded that great service is not just an attitude. It’s built on hard work, systems and great people.

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