Sunday, May 30th, 2010
What sort of response do you get from service providers when you share a preference that’s outside of the norm?
Perhaps you prefer to have your bagel sliced and then cut in half. Maybe you like an ice cube in your black coffee so you can begin to drink it right away.
During check-in, if a hotel guest requests The New York Times be delivered to his room in the morning but the only newspapers offered are the local paper, The Wall Street Journal, and USA TODAY, how would most front desk agents respond?
Here are some expected responses:
- We don’t have The New York Times. You’re in Seattle.
- Sorry. We only have the local paper, The Wall Street Journal, and USA TODAY.
- We don’t offer The New York Times but I know they carry it at the Starbucks across the street.
Instead, if you know it’s possible to get The New York Times, why not list the papers offered and then say, “Let me see what I can do.” (It’s not like he’s asking for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung—although the very best employees will find that newspaper too.)
When customers don’t have a strong preference, they’re likely to say something like, “Oh, it’s no big deal. I read The New York Times every day. The USA TODAY will be fine.”
If you sense otherwise, then this may be an opportunity to shine.
If you’re working the early shift tomorrow, why not swing by Starbucks on your way to work and then wow the guest by placing the paper outside his room—perhaps with a personalized note.
And if you are not working the early shift, then contract with a manager or another employee who does work the early shift. By doing so, you will make everyone’s job more interesting and wow a guest in the process!
Some employees will say, “If you do it for one guest, now you have to do it for every guest.”
That’s ridiculous. It’s an excuse used by average employees to deliver average customer service. It’s rationale used by those who either don’t want to go out of their way or simply prefer the predictable routine of treating each customer like the last customer—neither of which inspires loyal customers who will brag about you.
Besides, if more guests did begin to request The New York Times, then you should include it as one of the newspapers offered anyway.
Accommodating customer preferences is only as difficult as you make it. The next time you learn of a unique preference from a customer, project to him through your body language and voice tone that you consider his request to be reasonable and that, if there is a practical way to do so, you will make it happen.