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