During the recent SHRM Annual Conference, I stayed at the infamous hotel which had a breakout of Legionnaire’s Disease over the dates I was there. Yes, I’m feeling fine. No, I didn’t get any follow-up from the hotel about the breakout. Thank goodness SHRM sent attendees who booked there an email notification. But, that’s not why I’m writing this post.
I’m actually writing to tell you about my check-in experience. I waited in line for over an hour to check-in. On a Thursday morning. With only 4 people in front of me. That means at this hotel it takes an average of 15 minutes to check-in one person during non-peak hours. As a former hospitality executive, let me say this was ridiculously inefficient.
When I finally made it to the front of the line, I asked why it had taken so long. The reply, “I’m sorry.” I asked if the computer system went down. The reply, “I’m sorry.” Every single question and comment – “I’m sorry.”
Alrighty, I checked in and shook off the experience. If you aren’t familiar with this hotel, their claim to fame is that every room has smart features – automatic air-conditioning settings, electronic drapes, etc. Very George Jetson. It’s cool – when it works. I realized this right after the electricity went out in my room.
Called the front desk. Told them I had no electricity. The reply, “I’m sorry.” Asked if they could fix it. Reply? “I’m sorry.” Sigh.
So, I ended up getting dressed in the dark a couple times. Thank goodness the conference fashion police didn’t spot me – ha! And the hotel gave me a free room night and some half of dinner. Even though I eventually had to change rooms, I wasn’t majorly inconvenienced. My rant is because “I’m sorry” just isn’t a customer service program.
Companies need to train employees on the basics of customer service – listening, empathizing, problem solving, and follow-up. Customers aren’t looking for money every time something goes wrong. They are looking for a reasonable explanation and resolution to their issue.
Mistakes happen all the time. It’s how your business handles those mistakes that sets you apart from others. If your only reply is “I’m sorry”, it doesn’t send the message that the customer is important. Even if you add the simple words “I’m sorry, let me fix this for you”, the customer knows the company wants to retain them as a customer.
Providing a product or service isn’t enough in this economy. Companies have to make treating customers well a priority. If they don’t, their competitors will.
Image courtesy of runran0