Are you sure you know what you’re communicating?

Denver.  United Airlines.  Snow.  Wind.  5 hours of delays.

Finally get loaded on the plane.  Just about fall asleep.  The flight attendant comes on the PA to tell us that because of all the delays, our pilots are now declared illegal.  The flight (it’s now 11:30 pm) is canceled.

Oh yeah — we can’t retrieve our luggage.

Did I mention I have my 13-year old daughter with me?  Fun.

We scramble down to the hotel display and start dialing.  We’re tired. We’re frustrated.  We’re going to miss meetings, school and who knows what else.  Oh yeah, and we have no clean clothes. 

Cue Norma.  She answered the Embassy Suites phone and reassures me, "don’t worry, we’ve got a room and we’ll get you all set up."  20 minutes later, the van shows up.  Norma.  She had bottles of water for us and an offer to drive through a fast food joint if we’re hungry.

God bless Norma.  She dug up toothbrushes, deodorant and practically tucked us in.  She turned an incredibly frustrating experience into an actually pleasant one.  Simply by caring.

Which is why, at 2 am, I found myself on the Embassy Suites website, trying to figure out how to let the powers that be know what a gem they had in Norma.  I found the "recent stay comments" section.

Suites When I clicked on the drop down menu, this is what I saw.

You know what that says loud and clear to me?  We expect our employees to trigger complaints.  If I worked there,  I wouldn’t hold out much hope to hear good things about my performance.  I had to scroll down several more options before I could find a complimentary category to attach my comments to.

Yes, I am sure that many more people take the time to complain than they do to compliment.  But, what impact would it have if the drop down menu started with all the compliments and I had to scroll through them to get to the complaints?

It’s how we handle the details, the little things, the "that doesn’t really matter" elements that speaks loud and clear to our customers, prospects and employees.

How are you doing on that?

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5 comments on “Are you sure you know what you’re communicating?

  1. Mike says:

    Wow ! what great service.

    I just found your blog and have read about 5 posts and love it. I subscribed to the RSS feed and am hooked.

    At least your hotel experience was better than mine:

    Feel free to remove that link if you need to.

  2. Great service like that is becoming rarer by the second and should be rewarded. Dump the email (as much as I use it 99% of the time) and write a real letter on real paper and mail it to her boss. (And leave her a note and a box of chocolates.)

    With an online store, I deal with customer service all the time. So many customers are surprised the boss answers the phone, deals with problems quickly, etc. (Lots of customers today start out snarly waiting to be treated poorly – how sad is that!)

  3. Mike,

    No need to remove the link — it’s a great contrast to my story.

    I’m glad you stumbled upon teh blog and I hope you continue to find value in the posts.

    If not — e-mail me with some thoughts and I’ll see what I can do!

    Hope you keep jumping into the conversation!


  4. Becky,

    I’m thrilled you found my blog as well! I hope you’ll stick around and keep adding to the conversation.

    If you love the Mouse like I do…you’ll find that Disney is a pretty common theme in some of my writing. Few do it better.


  5. Roberta,

    Actually I already got a response from the Embassy Suites folks. They were passing my comments onto the location manager so she/he could recognize Norma for going above and beyond.

    But I agree — there’s something very impactful about a hand-written note. In today’s e-mail world, it really does make a difference.


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