Customer Service By Company Throwing Their Arms In The Air

By Mike Maddaloni on Tuesday, August 11, 2009 at 04:00 AM with 1 comments

Has this ever happened to you – you have a bad customer service experience and when you complain about it, the person you are dealing with doesn’t know how to respond to you, and finally asks, “so what do you want?” It has happened to me, and where it has worked to my advantage in the past, it is not something I want to happen to me.

When a company asks you what you want, they are in essence throwing their arms in the air and asking you for your mercy. I can only attribute this to one thing – employees are trained neither how to respond nor to sense when there is a customer service issue, and how to react to it. Throwing it back to you may seem like a natural reaction; you brought the issue to their attention, so you should have some resolution to it. Right? Well, not exactly, as you have been put on the spot and are probably in some disbelief at their query.

A Tale of 2 Sheratons

Two incidents of customer service issues come to mind, both involving Sheraton hotels. One was in Phoenix back in the early 1990’s when I was staying at the Sheraton Crescent for a month while on a consulting assignment. It was in December, and as this is a quiet time for the hotel, they were performing maintenance on the hotel. Though this was a while ago, I still recall plumbing issues, from water not being on for long periods of time to fire alarms going off as a result of the plumbing work. I liked the hotel, but these issues were a pain, so I called and spoke to a manager.

When I explained to him my issues and that I was basically on expense account, he offered me free meals and nights at the hotel. Um, didn’t I say I was there on business? When I repeated this, he proceeded to ask me what I wanted. As he said that, in the background the CFO of my client was handing out Phoenix Suns tickets to his staff. So I asked him how one could get Suns tickets. When I returned to the hotel that night, there were 2 front-row balcony tickets waiting for me, which was a treat for me and my manager.

Before moving to the Windy City my wife and I stayed at the Sheraton Chicago. As we were there for a few nights we had asked for housekeeping to empty the beverages from the refrigerator so we could use it, something they never did. The morning we checked out we heard a crash in the hallway and upon inspection there was a broken picture on the floor. Though housekeeping was in the halls, it was never picked up, even hours later when we checked out.

Upon checkout, the staff asked how our stay was, to which I apparently hesitated and said, “ok.” I say this as he right away asked if there was something wrong, and I told him about the above issues. He told me it was hotel policy not to empty out the fridge, but acknowledged we were probably not told that. He then proceeded to check us out, and when he handed us the bill, he noted he removed the charge for the movie and late-night snack in return for the issues we had. We never asked for anything, but he was proactive in addressing it.

What We Want Is Caring

I believe that people, upon raising an issue, want it to be acknowledged and some sign that they have a legitimate concern. Granted, there may be those trying to get something for nothing, but even in that case a sign of genuine caring should be offered as well. When it is not received, we are left with a bad feeling, and then fulfill the saying about telling 10 people we had bad service. Or today, we tweet about it or post it to Facebook.

Things happen. How we react to them hopefully will be the positive coming from the negative.

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