I'll Take Care of That!
By Ron Rosenberg
I like white chocolate macadamia nut cookies. I really do. Of course, there are more grams of fat in a single macadamia nut cookie than I should probably have in a whole day, but that's not always the deciding factor in whether I have one or not.
You may be asking yourself what these yummy cookies have to do with customer service; but don't worry, they're actually part of a trio of great service stories - all, as it turns out, taking place in hotels.
Where Did the Cookies Go?
I was attending a training program in Raleigh, and when I left the meeting room during one of the breaks, I saw that they had set up some refreshments for us, including a plate of freshly-baked cookies. There were chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, sugar cookies, peanut butter cookies...and white chocolate macadamia nut cookies. Yum!
As I began to reach for one of the white chocolate cookies, I felt a familiar vibration letting me know that there was a message for me. Turns out, it was a very important message from someone I really needed to speak with right away.
I took one last look at the cookies, and went off to make the call.
When I came back, I was really disappointed to see that, while all of the other varieties were still available, there were no more white chocolate macadamia nut cookies left on the tray.
I just stood there for a minute with a very sad look on my face. I really must have looked pathetic, because a maintenance person who had been cleaning the windows nearby put down his equipment and approached me to find out what was wrong.
I explained what had happened, and I thanked him for his concern, but I didn't think there was anything he could do about it.
He asked me how much time was left on our break, and when I told him it was about ten more minutes, he told me to sit tight, and he would check on something for me.
To my surprise - and immense delight - about eight minutes later, he emerged from a side door carrying a tray on which there were eight piping hot white chocolate macadamia nut cookies.
I grabbed a few of the cookies in a napkin (I wasn't going to miss out this time!) and then asked him about what had just happened.
Me: I really appreciate what you did, but I'm a little confused about why you did it - I mean, you're not in the Sales or Catering departments - you were just working on the windows...
Him: I know, but the policy at our hotel is that when someone finds a problem, they own that problem. It was easier for me to go back to the kitchen and ask them to make some extra cookies than it would have been to track down someone from Catering.
Wow! That's a lesson we'd all be smart to take to heart.
Everyone is Sick!
I was listening to an audio program the other day. The speaker was describing a time when he went on a trip with his wife and two young children. On the flight out, one by one, his wife, and then each of his children became nauseous. By the time they arrived at the hotel, he had come down with whatever bug the others had caught.
So there they were, all four of them walking towards their room looking like "death warmed over." A member of the housekeeping staff saw them and asked if there was anything he could do.
The father told him what had happened on the flight, and said that as soon as they were settled in the room, he was going to have to find a pharmacy and pick up some kind of medication.
Recognizing that the father himself was really in no condition to go anywhere, the housekeeping person said he would take his own car and get whatever they needed. He then went and told his manager what had happened.
The manager himself went out and made the purchase from the pharmacy, and then sent the man from housekeeping to actually deliver the purchase to the family since he was the one who had shown the initiative.
That's great service...and great leadership!
The Meeting Room Hasn't Been Cleaned...
I was preparing for a presentation at a recent conference in Washington, DC. I went to my conference room several hours early to get everything set up. I like to do that so that when people start showing up, I can spend some time welcoming them to the session and learning more about what they're hoping to gain from the session.
I was finished with the room preparation, and I had checked and double checked all of the A/V. The only problem is that it was about 40 minutes before my program was due to begin, and the meeting room hadn't been serviced from the morning session. In fact, there were coffee cups, snack wrappers, and even a few breakfast plates from earlier in the morning scattered throughout the room.
I walked over towards the front desk to get some help, but there was a long line of people there. Same thing at the concierge area. At that point, I was just looking for any manager I could find to get this taken care of, because I wouldn't want people coming into a dirty meeting room any more than I would want to have friends over to my house if it wasn't clean.
I couldn't find any managers, but I did see Wanda, cleaning tables in a bar that hadn't yet opened for the day. I told her about the situation with the room and asked who I could speak with to get it sorted out.
She said, "You don't need to speak with anyone - you found me!"
Wanda told me to wait for her at the meeting room, and then showed up there a few minutes later. Armed with a cart and a trash barrel, she proceeded to clean the entire room single handed.
I thanked her and asked if she would give me the name of her manager so I could provide some feedback about the great job she had done. As it turns out, Wanda happened to see her manager heading down the escalator, and I chased after her to make sure I had the opportunity to sing Wanda's praises.
This was a situation that could have easily degraded to "Sorry, it's not my job..." But the fact that Wanda stepped up and did what was necessary reflected positively on the hotel, on the hotel brand, and on the conference I was presenting at.
It really doesn't take a lot of effort to do the right thing - you just have to make sure that everyone on your team understands that this is not just permissible, but actually expected.