Customer service and social media
My eldest grandson was given the opportunity to select destinations for a week with his grandmother and I. He chose 2 amusement parks in Pittsburgh and Hershey, Pennsylvania, 2 major league baseball games in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, Midevil Times and zip lining. Jake is 12 years old and we were pleased to able to take him on his pre-teen bucket list vacation in July. The trip required several motels scattered between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, so I went on line to Expedia and Trip Advisor to research locations with price, customer ratings, and several motel features in mind, including breakfast, wifi, and proximity to the places we wished to visit. Satisfied with each I made reservations and looked forward to an awesome week with young Jake.
Monday and Tuesday were fun filled adventures. We toured Pittsburgh by car, foot and boat. We attended a Pirate game. Monday night’s accommodations were fine and breakfast was very good for a motel. Tuesday we spent the day at Kennywood Park enjoying seeing Jake having a blast riding stuff I would never dream of going on. Once again, the accommodations were satisfactory and breakfast ample and tasty. We then spent the day at Hershey Park, where, once again, Jake rode thrill ride after thrill ride all day long. We were exhausted and still had a 2 hour drive to the motel chosen for our next overnight before attacking Philadelphia. Knowing we would be arriving after midnight I called the motel from the park to let them know we would be arriving quite late. The young woman who took the call assured me she would not rent the room out and would be waiting for us when we arrived. She was true to her word.
At 1 a.m. we arrived, totally spent. I parked the van and we took our bags and trudged to the entrance. A young woman was standing in front smoking a cigarette. I nodded to her as we passed her to enter the lobby. The young woman nodded back, saying nothing. I assumed that she was a guest having a late cigarette before retiring for the night. We entered and went to the desk. no one in sight. I called out, “Is anyone here?” No answer. I went down the hall and knocked on the office door. No reply. I went back to the desk and waited…and waited…and as I was about to leave to find another place to lay ourselves down for the remainder of the night, the young woman we had seen smoking came in. Saying nothing to us she walked to the office door and appeared behind the counter, ten minutes after we had entered the lobby. She said, “Your Name? Driver’s license. Credit card for incidentals”, and handed me a form to initial where an x appeared and to sign where circled. “Breakfast is behind you at 6:30 to 9:30.” Never a smile. Never an apology for making us wait. Never a change to her staccato tone of delivery. In short, she would not be the first choice to serve on my customer service team. I accepted the entry card from her with the room number printed on the envelope containing it and went down the hall in search of pillows and bed. I was tired and ANGRY!
Morning arrived way too soon for all of us. We were tired and looking forward to breakfast, coffee for my wife and I, and a full day and night of fun in Philadelphia. We should have known the rest of the morning at that motel would not warrant our hope for a great day. It started off wrong when I told the morning clerk of my disappointment with the person on the previous shift. She did not know what to say. “The manager”, she mumbled, “will be in soon. You should talk to her”. “In case I leave before she gets here may I have the management company name and phone number”, I asked. “I don’t have it”, the young lady replied. Now I am older and perhaps expect too much, but I don’t believe that information was unknown to her. In fact when I looked around I found it posted behind where she stood. Now I was a little angrier than I had been at 1:15 a.m.
So, to the breakfast line we go. One egg wafer left. Four strips of bacon drowning in an inch of grease staring up at me from a stainless steel swimming pool.
And then the manager comes over and says, “I understand there are issues you wish to discuss”. “Yes and more now!”, I retorted. “When you finish breakfast come to my office and we can discuss what happened”, she says with no apology or smile, as my stomach churns from looking at bacon drowning in front of my eyes while she sternly tells me she will be waiting.
I never went to her office. I did, however go to Expedia and Trip Advisor to give her establishment a terrible rating. I did take advantage of the ability the internet and social media have given me to express my feelings. And that is the point of this tirade. Our members have the ability to tell hundreds, if not thousands, of people when we let them down in how we treat them. Good service is not good enough in the era of the internet. We must strive for the W.O.W. factor every time, not sometimes. 56 people had read my Trip Advisor review in the first week. How many of them do you think booked rooms in that hotel?
It isn’t enough in these times to merely train our service team. They must also be assessed regularly and effectively coached. Expectations must be made clear to everyone on the team. Service recovery must be a top priority in training and coaching of our leaders. Failure to communicate what outstanding service looks and feels like leads to shortfalls in service. Shortfalls in service lead to poor reviews appearing on Facebook and other social media. Where once poor service experiences were shared with 14 people, today they may be shared with thousands. What are you doing to make sure that when your organization is reviewed on line it is receiving the ratings you want to see when searching the internet on behalf of your family?