I was visiting a local business here in town and though I was early, my wait still surpassed three hours. I walked up to the receptionist and said, “May I offer you a suggestion?” The receptionist clearly in a sour mood said curtly, “Yes”. I said, “it would be nice if in the future you had a sign that offered the wait times like you’d see at an amusement park ride.” I added, “that way we could come back later when there is not a long line.” Instead of an apology for wasting my whole morning, the woman with sarcasm as thick as honey replied, “If you don’t like it, go somewhere else!”
I took her suggestion and I have never returned. I bet if I were to go back for a visit, that same person with all the charm of an alligator needing a root canal, would still be working there. When was the last time a customer service person wowed you? I can just hear you say, “I’m thinking, I’m thinking.” Well today I can crow that one company’s customer care people listened to me and they answered back in a hurry.
I used to travel extensively and stay in all types of hotels. I’ve been a frequent stay member of four hotel chains and I still get fussy when the service is less than stellar. I laugh because in one chain, I stayed so many times, I achieved platinum status. They sent me certificates to give to employees at future stays who recognized my “elite status”. In all the years I had been a member, never once did I ever give one out. It appeared the front desk clerk was more interested in my credit card than my membership card.
This past holiday, we had to travel through the great state of Texas, the Lone Star State. I learned the recent oil boom significantly raised the price of hotels in the Midland-Odessa area. We decided to stop at one of my favorite chains, Best Western. I like this chain because not only are their prices competitive, but when you get a room with two beds, it’s usually queen size beds. Thank goodness too because double beds feel so narrow, I feel as if I’m sleeping on a railroad tie.
My story really starts in Big Spring, Texas. Named in 1882 after a big spring, it is most famous for it’s location along the old Comanche Indian War Trail. It was here at the Best Western that my family of four bedded for the night. Though the beds were comfortable, other issues with the stay had me writing a letter to the corporate office of Best Western to lodge a complaint. I was not prepared for how proactive the company was with concerns.
This morning, not only did I receive a personal phone call from corporate customer relations, but this evening I received an additional personal phone call from the owner of the hotel. I learned his name was a variation of the name Elijah. Disappointed for me that my stay was not memorable, he offered to reimburse me the money for my stay. I declined.
We had a pleasant conversation further about his hotel and what his standards of customer service were. All I know, is he won me over with his candor and kindness. I promised him the next time I traveled through Big Spring, I was going to stay at his hotel again.
“How could I not”, I told him. As a Pastor, I teach about second chances all the time. I’m not sure I’ll ever meet this man personally and that’s sad. But one thing I do know, we need a lot more businessmen who know his way of doing business. He reached out and gave me the personal touch and in so doing, he renewed my faith that someone actually still values their customers.
Wow, real customer service, attention to details. Did I fall sleep and wake up in a Norman Rockwell painting?