Wednesday, January 18, 2012

What would Richard do?

When it comes to hotel service, I have a new standard by which I measure facilities:  "What would Richard do?"  Richard Caines, you may recall, is director of training at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Kissimmee, Florida.  The hotel appropriately prides itself on a very high standard of service, based in turn on a respectful and congenial approach to its staff.

So, today, I am at the Gold Strike Casino Resort, in Tunica, Mississippi, where I will be giving a speech to a group of health care finance people.  Hearkening back to my years in Arkansas, I decided to start my day with a good old-fashioned Southern breakfast in the comfort of my room.  Now, there was no way I was going to eat all 2000 calories, but I was looking forward to sampling the grits, biscuits, and fried ham steak.

Well, as I dug into the ham, I discovered that it was resting comfortably on a rather long and dark human hair.  That quickly ended breakfast, and I called room service to report the matter.  The woman who answered was very apologetic and offered to send up another meal.  I said that I no longer had an appetite for that and was only concerned that they find the cause of the problem so it wouldn't happen to anyone else.  She told me that someone would come up to investigate.

A short while later, a man from Security showed up.  He took a picture of the evidence; took a picture of me to document that the hair could not have come from my head, and then asked me write out a description of the event and sign it.  He also donned surgical gloves and put the offending hair in an evidence bag.  He left behind a card, with contact information for the security department, saying that I could contact them in about five days to learn the results of their investigation.  He was polite and helpful throughout.

The way the hotel choose to handle this case made me feel like I felt like a witness at the scene of a crime more than a customer reporting a service quality problem.  Yes, both people with whom I was in contact were friendly, concerned and appropriate.  Each one asked if there was anything further they could do to help me.

I think Richard and his colleagues at the Gaylord would have handled this differently.  I think they also would have apologized profusely.  I think they would have offered to refund the cost of my breakfast.  I think they would have gone further to make sure I would want to come back to their resort, perhaps even so much as refunding a portion of my room charge or offering me a discount on a future stay.  They would not have asked me to fill out an affidavit, which in essence made me feel like the hotel didn't trust my oral report. And they NEVER would have taken a picture of me to substantiate the nature of my complaint -- as though a customer would choose to lift up a ham slice and put a hair underneath.  Finally, they would not have left it up to me to contact the hotel in several days.  They would have taken it upon themselves to send me a report, along with remedial steps they had taken.  I imagine, too, that a senior manager would have come to visit me within an hour or so to apologize again and explain their process improvement plans.

Minor points?  Maybe.  But in a highly competitive resort marketplace, details matter.

(In health care, too, by the way.)


Addendum:  A short time after I wrote this, I went to the front desk to check out.  The process was taking longer than expected, as the desk clerk stepped away to consult with her supervisor.  After some time, she returned, and I asked if everything was all right.  "Yes," she said, "we were figuring out how to 'comp' you for your breakfast order this morning."  A nice gesture, I thought, but why had no one mentioned it earlier during my talks with the room service or security people?  By delaying the gesture, they lost a chance to make a good impression in real time.


Anonymous said...

If they treated you with such disregard, and human error as crime, can you imagine how they treated the poor employee?

Why is it so difficult for so many individuals and industries to figure out the basic rewards of social interaction? Organizational psychology is filled with banalities about behavior, while missing the point of interacting altogether. It could be a strategy to drive you to the slot machine for a warmer touch.

Most people can spot a fake smile from a real one. Even if they are too scared to smile first.

Anonymous said...

It sounds as though they were going to fire someone.

Paul Levy said...

Anon 11:04, there, too, the Gaylord would act in a very different manner, one highly respectful of each staff member.

Anonymous said...

It's a HAIR!