When I checked into my hotel last night, I asked (as I always do) if my room was relatively quiet. And I used these words “…it isn’t up against or right next to an elevator is it?” The woman behind the front desk said it wasn’t. She then gave me directions to the elevator bank. “Just take two lefts at the top of the escalator.”
Ten minutes later I was on a house phone trying to find the elevator bank. I’ve adventured travel in Borneo so I’m pretty good at finding my way around. Her directions sucked.
When I finally got to my room, I discovered it was indeed up against the elevator shafts. Many people were using these elevators, and every press of the button set into motion a mechanical cacophony that lasted throughout the night.
Also, there was a message light on my phone. The client had an amenity for me, but since it was after 11:00 p.m. I’d need to call the hotel to get it delivered. They didn’t want to interrupt my evening. I called. They said they’d deliver. 90 minutes later (literally) I was on the phone with the delivery people. “We’re pretty busy and your room is a long way away…” No apology. At 1:00 a.m. my basket of goodies arrived.
I called the manager on duty. I related my experience. He asked if there was anything I wanted him to do. I resisted the urge to be a smart aleck. That was the last I heard from anyone in the hotel about the various service delivery failures.
Nobody is too surprised when things go bad, but customers, colleagues, friends and relatives live with the optimism that whoever caused the problem will do a little something to make things right. Even a simple apology is a good place to start.
Next time you are involved with a serious experience failure, do an experience autopsy. It doesn’t take long, and the insights can be most helpful. Here are the questions:
1. What went wrong?
2. What can we do to make things better right now?
3. What have we learned that we can use to do better in the future?
Making mistakes isn’t a criminal offense. Making the same ones over and over nearly is. When someone–anyone–brings a legitimate problem or concern to your attention (and if they’re bringing it up, it is legitimate to them), take action. Ask some simple questions. Prove to the person you value them by responding rationally and helpfully. And learn something that will prevent you from making the same mistake in the future.