Dealing with customers when everything is going wrong

Last week I stayed at a hotel in London the night before I was due to run a workshop for a client. All was going well until I came back to the hotel about 8.45pm to be told ‘don’t use the lift, there’s no power’.

The chap at reception was trying to call the lift engineer, and after 10 minutes he finally got through. He was juggling 3 phones, also trying to reassure whoever was stuck in the lift, as well as dealing with 3 new arrivals wanting to check in, people whose rooms were in darkness…the list goes on.

I felt sorry for him. Where were his colleagues, where was the duty manager?

The lift engineer would be 45 minutes; I couldn’t help but interfere at this point – ‘call the fire brigade’ I suggested, and he did. They were there within 10 minutes (don’t they look young?!) to rescue the man from the lift.

Still no mains power but there was some emergency lighting and so I headed to my room. An hour or so later, no power again and this time, added bonus – no water!

All night they worked trying to fix things – how did I know this? Because they were above and outside my room banging and crashing until the early hours.

Bimal, the chap who was juggling the night before was nowhere to be seen when I checked out, so I made sure to mention him, how well he had coped (considering) and how he had been left to deal with everything on his own.

I emailed customer relations, and they gave me some reward points. All very nice, but what I really wanted, was for Bimal’s manager to take note. Not just that Bimal coped well, but that no one was there to support him.

If we truly want our people to deliver great customer service, we have to make sure they have the resources to do so.

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