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Make 'Service' Extraordinary –Farquharson/Tedesco

January 2013

When did ordinary customer service become extraordinary? When did getting a client on the phone become akin to winning tickets in a radio station promotion ("Congratulations! You're the 25th caller!")? Somewhere along the line what was once expected in everyday business disappeared. Perhaps people got too busy or maybe the basics were no longer deemed as necessary, but we now live in a sad world where "No problem" has replaced "My pleasure" and essential customer needs go unanticipated and therefore unmet. Perhaps the better question to ask is, how can you benefit?

Customer service died at roughly the same time when common courtesy became uncommon. The goal of voice mail was once to get someone to call back. Today, when that actually happens, you'd be wise to purchase a lottery ticket. You're on a roll! The I, me, my world we inhabit has given rise to a new breed of rude. But cynics beware: In every problem there is an opportunity!

Three true stories. Three customer service nightmares:

A guest is staying at the Holiday Inn in Independence, OH, and the power goes out in the middle of the night. Okay, that's fine. Lying in bed that morning, the man runs through the list of what's to come once his feet hit the floor and ponders the implications of an electricity-less existence: Cold shower, a challenging shaving experience, dressing in the dark, no coffee...NO COFFEE!!!???

Must. Warn. Others.

Calming down and eventually peeling himself off of the ceiling, he remembers that the Holiday Inn in Independence, OH, probably has staff working on the problem. That thought gives him the confidence to get out of bed. Picking up the phone, the conversation went like this:

Them: "Front desk..."

Him: "Hi. What can you tell me about the power outage?"

Them: "The entire hotel is out."

Him: "Okay. What's the deal on breakfast and, more importantly, coffee?"

Them: "What do you mean? The power is out. Sorry for the inconvenience."

Him: "Got it. Thanks."

Our question: Why didn't the manager on the night shift ask, "What can I do to anticipate my guests' needs? Dunkin' Donuts sells a 'Box of Joe' that holds 25 cups of coffee. There's a Dunky right across the street and, miraculously, their lights are on. Perhaps I might send someone over with $50. Heck, the hotel is going to lose that and probably much more in refunds anyway." When the man went down to the front desk to pose that question, he stopped upon seeing the night manager talking with the morning manager, laughing over the coffee that the former had bought the latter on the way in.



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