Service Recovery: Case-in-Point

HiltonI 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.

Well done!

Related Posts:
Apologies (Part 1)
"I Don’t Want Your Apology!"
I Blew It – How Do I Respond?

  11 comments for “Service Recovery: Case-in-Point

  1. July 17, 2006 at 4:09 pm

    This story further increases my confidence that customer service can and will be restored everywhere πŸ˜‰ An excellent story – we need people like that in Las Vegas too (where I’m currently on a mini-vacation). It was 110 degrees this weekend, so I know what you went through!

  2. July 17, 2006 at 8:19 pm

    Tom, From what I’ve experienced in the last few days, folks in general up here in Chicago seem to have a better customer service attitude than what I have gotten used to experiencing back home in Savannah, sad to say.
    I’ve been out working in that heat. But perspective is a great thing. Here they are having a few hot very days and it’s a heat wave. Back home we just call it summer and expect it to last for three or four months! πŸ˜‰

  3. July 18, 2006 at 2:58 am

    Good story, Tom! Yeah, like Maria (whom I envy right now because she’s on a vacation πŸ˜‰ ) it makes us believe that customer service is alive and kicking. Wish it’s as alive and kicking in Chicago as is anywhere in the world.

  4. July 18, 2006 at 4:18 am

    Chris, (hahahaha) thanks for the much needed perspective. Sorry we missed each other this weekend. We’ll have another chance to hook up, I’m sure!
    And yes, Meikah, I hope someday we will have two great customer service stories for every negative one!

  5. July 18, 2006 at 7:45 am

    Wow — ice water when the bus door opens — that is service! Great story and it makes a person want to stay there. Thanks too Tom, for making me a member of such a quality mug club! I think the first two letters of QAQnA really mean “QUALITY! AWESOME!” That’s what my magnificent mug says to me!

  6. Chris Hagenow
    July 18, 2006 at 8:23 am

    Tom – Glad the hotel worked out!

  7. July 18, 2006 at 12:42 pm

    Thanks for the recommendation, Chris!

  8. July 18, 2006 at 12:44 pm

    You’re welcome, Ellen. I hope you enjoy many cups of coffee with it! Thanks for being part of the conversation!

  9. July 19, 2006 at 11:13 am

    Taking Care of Your Customers

    You know the old adage with WOM. People talk. Customers talk a lot. And customers tell more people about bad experiences than good. There’s always lots of reasons, justifications: It’s human nature; Miserly loves company; A story of the unusual

  10. July 19, 2006 at 1:03 pm

    Excellent example! Just this week I’d experienced the inability to access my LibSyn account for six full days–unthinkable for a podcaster! Five email support requests were met with silence.
    When they did finally address the request, the issue was remedied promptly. OK, fine. My month’s subscription was refunded. Better.
    And one guy sent me this personal note: Sorry for sucking.
    Talk about “authenticity of voice”! His heartfelt, non-corporate apology made me laugh out loud and endeared the whole group to me so much the more!

  11. July 20, 2006 at 8:10 am

    What a great story! I always tell CSRs that QA elements should be like a picture frame – they help your frame the conversation so that the customer gets a consistent “look” no matter who they talk to when they call, but “you” should always come through to the customer. I love it when CSRs add a little of their own personality to the message. Thanks for sharing, Heidi!

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