On a recent 12-day business trip that included several cities, travel on several different domestic and international airlines, and various hotel stays, it became so clear to me once again that it is all about “millimeters” when it comes to outstanding customer service.
Let me share a recent experience with you and provide some valuable insight for your business or professional practice.
I will start with my hotel stays.
I stayed at two different hotels in the same city. Each hotel for three nights, both five-star hotels. I will not mention them by name, so let’s just say Hotel A and Hotel B.
Both Hotel A and Hotel B had beautiful lobbies and gorgeous rooms with extremely comfortable beds and luxurious bedding. Both offered state-of-the-art fitness centers, indoor pools, and both even offered personal trainers if you had the need or desire.
You would be hard pressed to decide which hotel was nicer as far as the appearance and overall guest rooms, as they were both considered the more “elite” brands of well-known hotel chains.
Their similarities stopped there at the actual physical attractiveness.
Customer service was the differentiator, and it was blatantly different.
Hotel A employees were trained in the art and science of extraordinary customer service and customer experience.
Hotel B employees, well let’s just say there was room for improvement.
Hotel A employees were there when you entered the building to greet you at any time of the day with a smile and ask you how your day went. Questions or requests were welcomed and they went over and beyond my expectations in helping me find an answer or solution. I never felt that my questions or requests were silly or that I was “bothering” them.
They provided information regarding the best tours, helped me navigate safely around the hotel and local area to maximize my free time, and see the best sites. They always did this with a smile and the sense that you were their only guest at that moment.
Quite a feat in this day and age.
In fact, by the end of my stay, I tried to recruit one of their employees to come work for our Orthodontic practice. She had the gift of making people feel welcome and that they were her friend for a very long time. I watched her for several days during breakfast service interacting with customers and it was impressive. (I was not the only one attempting to recruit her either!)
The consistency of the experience over the three days was exceptional. Extraordinary customer service was evident in every interaction I had with each employee in this hotel. It was not just a “one employee” experience.
I hated to leave this hotel, as it almost felt like a dream and one that I knew would probably end as I traveled to other locations.
And it did.
My next stop was Hotel B, and the dream state I was in soon changed on check-in.
A very simple request at check-in such as, “Could you check my hotel rewards number? I do not have it on me,” was met with a look of disdain and a response that it could not be done because it would take too long.
I looked around and there were no other people checking in at the moment, and even if there were, they had several other staff members at the desk ready and waiting for guests to arrive.
After I settled into my room, I decided to check out the local area around the hotel. I was in a foreign country on a business trip and wanted to see whatever I could in the few free hours I had in the afternoon.
A trip to the concierge desk was the next stop.
He gave me a map and pointed out two “local” spots that I could easily walk to and see; claiming one was about a 20-minute walk and the other about 10 minutes. Both were of interest to me, so I set out with my map to find these historic sites.
After about 60 minutes of following the map and directions he gave me, I gave up on the one historic site that was supposed to be 30 minutes away. I did stop and ask several people on my journey and most told me it was much farther than it looked on a map and I needed to take a cab.
By this point, I was running out of “free time” and needed to get back to the hotel and prepare for a meeting the next day.
When I got back to the hotel to talk with the concierge about it, he was already gone for the day.
This is an international hotel and I was in a foreign city, traveling alone. An exceptional guest experience would have been to give me more information and maybe explain that a cab would have been the easiest and quickest choice in getting to the site. I do remember feeling that I was “bugging him” and now I know why…maybe he was nearing the end of his shift and just wanted to go home!
It’s all about millimeters!
Hotel A had the fine art of extraordinary customer service and they had trained their staff to treat each guest like they were the only guest at that moment. This is something we all should strive to do with our patients and customers each and every time we interact with them.
Hotel B was just like the majority of hotel guest experiences. The basics were met, there was no effort to go above and beyond. No attention to the small things, like a smile and a warm greeting at the end of a long day. I would say Hotel B offered the experience we receive in about 80% of hotels around the world. Unfortunately, more is expected at a five-star hotel.
Those small things we do each and every day to help our customers, patients, and clients help to maximize the experience they have in our offices and places of business. It is paying attention to those “little things” that make the biggest impact and create customers, clients, and patients who become members of your “AA” club (ardent admirers club).
It is those customers that will continue to help build your business, practice, or brand.
It is those small, but significant things we do consistently that make the biggest impact in people’s lives and create customer loyalty and ongoing referrals.
I know when I travel in the future, I will be much more likely to book a hotel room with the Hotel A brand. It was not only the fact that the hotel was beautiful and had comfortable and relaxing guest rooms.
It was more about how they made you feel as guest in their hotel. For me, that feeling lingers long after my trip is over.