Switching Directions Can Transform Service

by Diane Berenbaum

I recently had a customer service experience that was downright discouraging! I was working with a client in the Chicago area and took the opportunity to visit my in-laws over the weekend. I went to the front desk of my hotel and asked for directions to their town. The woman jotted down the route, claimed it was very straightforward, and sent me on my way.

I started driving, figuring that I would be at my destination within the hour. After about 45 minutes, I realized that I had not found the highway that was supposed to be 10 minutes away (okay, I am a bit trusting and directionally-challenged). I stopped at a gas station where two patrons informed me that it was impossible to reach my destination with the directions I received.

I turned around and called my husband in Connecticut who calmly guided me to my destination using the web (one of the many reasons I married him).

Several weeks later, I was scheduled to return to this hotel. With mixed feelings, I went to check in. To my surprise, George at the front desk greeted me with a very warm and genuine, "Welcome back, Diane!" Shocked, I asked, "You remember me?" and he said, "Of course, I strive to know all of our guests by name--and it's nice to see you again. I have your non-smoking room ready for you."

I stepped back and noticed that George served every guest with professionalism, efficiency and grace, along with a terrific smile - every time. Soon others at the hotel came up to me and welcomed me back. I couldn't help but smile as I meandered around the hotel, and thought to myself, "Now, THIS is MAGIC® Service."

Later that night, I saw the woman at the front desk who gave me the inaccurate directions. By then, I was in such great spirits, I smiled and told her about the error on the pre-printed directions.

It's amazing how an outstanding service experience can completely change our thinking about an organization. You, too, can recover from a seemingly hopeless situation and sustain your service culture - sometimes you just need to switch directions or step back a bit.

It made all the difference at the Renaissance Hotel in Northbrook, IL. If you stay there, and I recommend it, be sure to say hello to George for me.

Diane Berenbaum is a long-time contributor and former editor of the MAGIC Service Newsletter. She has more than twenty-five years of experience as a consultant, coach, and facilitator. Diane is the co-author of How to Talk to Customers: Create a Great Impression Every Time with MAGIC® .
Before and After
Before and After
Just one "tragic" contact can influence your customers' perception of your company (and their buying decisions). Listen to the difference MAGIC® can make.