I took my wife, daughter and her friend to spend this past weekend in a scorching Windy City. We stayed at the O’Hare Hilton Garden Inn in Des Plaines on the recommendation of fellow group member, Chris Hagenow. It was a good choice. The hotel was comfortable, immaculate and I was impressed with with service we received all weekend. The entire staff from housekeepers to front desk to shuttle drivers were warm and friendly. We were constantly greeted with a smile and a salutation. Every question was promptly answered and the service was flawlessly efficient.
On Sunday we took the hotel shuttle to the Rosemont station to catch the train into Chicago. The sun was unbearable and in the heat of the afternoon we returned to the hotel. I called the hotel when we were almost to the train station and was assured that the shuttle would be dispatched to pick us up. Then we waited…and waited…and waited. As a business traveller, I’m used to being patient but we were standing in 100+ degree heat for 30 minutes and the hotel was less than a five minute drive away. Plus, it’s one thing when I’m by myself, but I had three very uncomfortable women on my hands.
I placed another call to the hotel and calmly stated that I had called earlier and was checking on the status of the shuttle. I was placed on hold for about a minute and the woman returned to the line. She handled it just as I coach people to do it. She quickly and sincerely apologized and stated that the driver was leaving immediately and would be at the station in less than five minutes. Sure enough, the shuttle arrived promptly.
Here’s the kicker: When the doors to the shuttle opened, the driver greeted us with a smile and another prompt apology. "I know you’ve been standing out here in the heat, so I brought you some ice cold water." With that, he handed each of us a bottle of water (how he knew there were four of us, I’m not sure – maybe it was a good guess). He then added, "I’ll get you right back to the hotel!"
This was a classic example of service recovery when you drop the ball: apologize ("I care") and resovle the issue ("the shuttle is leaving immediately"). The staff at the Hilton Garden Inn did it one better by anticipating that we were hot (physically and emotionally) and thirsty and brought something to cool off both our bodies and our tempers.