a tuna potato in a hotel in Wales

One thing that really winds me up is bad customer service. I’m a complainer. I rant. I tell everyone. I also go out of my way to thank people if they have done a good job – so I think its fair. Everyone I know is aware of the exceptional service of Thelma at Debenhams on Oxford Street. Amazing woman.

My intolerance for poor service started with an early job in the customer service team at a travel agency. My days consisted of being shouted at by people who had booked the wrong flight, or were sold the wrong holiday or were upset at the lack of 24/7 free ice cream on their all-inclusive holiday to Tenerife. My comment as to ‘how much ice cream person can one person eat..really?” didn’t go down too well and resulted in some lengthy correspondence between the wannabe ice cream eater and the Chief Exec.

However, I do applaud Mr Ice Cream for getting angry about the lack of ice cream, if that’s what he believed in. Surely its better to be passionate about something rather than indifferent…..even if it is chocolate ice cream sundae availability.

I stayed at a hotel in Cardiff this week. It was a customer service black hole. First up the receptionist wrote the wrong number on my room card. I spent 10 minutes attempting to break into room 332, rather than relaxing in room 322. Hungry after my attempted break in and long journey from London I tried to order food. Challenged by the lack of menu (it was being updated) and a slow and difficult process of negotiation and memory recall with the receptionist it turned out that the only option was a tuna mayonnaise jacket potato.  When I asked for cheese as well it was a step too far. The receptionist went into a confused panic and I instantly regretted my request.

The potato did eventually arrive. It was OK. No complaints about the potato per say. I went to bed without paying for my potato. I got a late night call to my room demanding I come and pay for my potato immediately – I refused. What other hotel do you have to pay for goods on a potato by potato basis?

In the morning I had to sign to say I had received cutlery (and pay for my potato). I had breakfast with some vicars.

Perhaps David Lynch would like some inspiration for his next film from this surreal place?

My point is that great customer service isn’t hard. Just put yourself in your customers or your donors shoes – what would you expect? And what would make you feel special and that someone has gone out of their way for you. And if you get it wrong be quick to say sorry.

It’s a competitive world, the small touches are valued and will entice people back. I wont be going back to the Cardiff black hole – not unless David Lynch asks me to star in his next blockbuster.

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