Bad Customer Service? 6 Smart Ways To React
You’ve generously doled out tips to the concierge, the pool attendant, the trainer who runs the sports complex behind your hotel, the waiter or waitress in your hotel’s restaurant, but something goes wrong. Here’s what to do:
1. Let the management know at once what’s bothering you. Address the problem calmly, immediately when it occurs and not after you have left the hotel. Often guests will suffer through a substandard stay and wait until they get home to write an unpleasant letter or review, claiming their stay was compromised or even ruined. While it might feel good to get this of your chest in the privacy of your own home, it won’t give you the satisfaction of resolving the problem in the first place. If you had complained right away, the hotel would have had the opportunity to remedy the situation and turn a negative into a positive.
2. Phrase your complaint reasonably and specifically, without shouting or threatening. Let the general manager know that the service or the experience is inadequate, or not what you expected. “I was very much looking forward to my trip,” you can say, “but here is what seems to be happening. What can you do to fix it?” The clearer you are about the problem, the easier it is for others to solve it to your satisfaction. Many problems are compounded because of poor communication.
3. Most hotel managers will make an honest, concerned effort to fix something that’s gone wrong. The hospitality business aims to please and to put guests at their ease.
4. Depending on the nature of your complaint, I advise formulating in your head a reasonable remedy for it. “What can we do to make up for the situation?” is among the first questions people trained in customer or guest relations are poised to ask. Whether you would like to change rooms or have something taken off your bill as consolation for the nauseating smell of wet paint, or even change hotels entirely, make it clear what the management can do to salvage your trip. But again, be reasonable. The more reasonable you are, the more the manager will want to help you.
5. Back at home, decide whether or not the management handled your complaint properly. Depending on the quality of your experience there, inform your travel agent, if you use one, to recommend the hotel to his or her other clients, or to steer clear.
6. If I’ve had a particularly good visit at a hotel, I take the time to write to the hotel manager on my personal stationery, saying something like “Thank you for making me feel so welcome during my recent stay, and here’s wishing you a successful summer.” Believe me when I say that these kinds of notes go a long way! Next year, when you are placing a reservation at the same hotel, the response will doubtlessly be similar to what I’ve received, “Hello, Mr. Cowie! Welcome back!”
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