Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Making Things Worse - Customer Service in Cornwall

The prosecution:
  1. Nice hotel near Number 15 Restaurant on the outskirts of Newquay. Friendly welcome... but obviously times were hard - they were offering extra 40% discount for any friends who book in the coming low season - pretty good, eh! The nice manageress made a lovely sales pitch 'asking for the business'... all good stuff! I was ready to tell the whole world about them. Times were hard... but here, it seemed, was a business making the effort...

  2. The next morning: 06.55am the ventilation/extract fan etc outside our bedroom window kicks off and roars into action. It is so loud it wakes us both up with a jolt.

  3. I call reception and explain the situation and the sweet person at reception was very understanding "You are not the first person to mention it... so sorry... and can you come to reception when you are ready and mention the problem and we will be able to sort something out with the bill." Excellent. Some kind of a result.

  4. Neither of us can get back to sleep as the noise gets progressively louder. I ask myself why I have to resort to turning on the radio/TV to drown out the noise of the fan... so we resign ourselves to getting up.

  5. On departure we go to reception as requested and mention the problem. The reply was, "It's the ventilation system and we have to have it on or we can't open the kitchen for breakfast" followed by "Why should we do something on the bill - you got a good price already" and similar stuff. I pointed out that I was simply repeating what the earlier receptionist had said, but to no avail. As tension increased the manageress who had watched all this shrugged her shoulders to receptionist who again repeated that "There is nothing we can do..., the ventilation has to go on..." I appealed to her one more time pointing out that I now felt foolish and loathe to recommend her hotel to my many friends who would follow me to Number 15 but zero response.
Walking out of the reception area I am fuming. I stop in the foyer (where reception can still hear me) and I repeat that I am amazed that they are happy to let me leave as an upset/disgruntled customer. Naively I hoped they might decide to relent or at a minimum say those immortal words "I am sorry" or "you are right" or "yes can we offer you a discount for the inconvenience".

Instead the receptionist made me feel as if I had been lying about the offered discount.

- So who's problem is this, mine or theirs?

- Why do I get so upset that they can't be bothered?

- Should I name and shame the hotel? (PS I have sent them a copy of this blog entry. I wonder if I will get a reply?)
- How many chances should I give them, or am I simply in the wrong to expect a quiet night's sleep and for a hotel to deliver on its promise???

I am afraid that even with the 40% discount, I will not be recommending them.
So, shall I tell you who it was?


Customer Is King - the book
Previous posting on Ritz Carlton

Exceeding Customer Expectations - A Seven Point Plan - Are customers really in charge when it comes to dealing with organisations. Here is a seven-point plan to make sure the customer is 'king' (Customer Management, July/August 2006)
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