How to Turn a Problem into a Loyal Customer

This past weekend, I spent a night in a hotel in Providence, RI. As occasionally happens, we experienced a problem during our stay. As it turns out, this particular Marriott is frequented by local college students who wish to have parties without running the risk of being booted off campus if they run afoul of the law. (Gosh, what are the odds of that?)

Shortly after checking in early in the evening, it was clear that most of the members of Delta House had a block of rooms just down the hall and were preparing to head out to deliver a horse to Dean Werner’s office. Shrewdly sensing that the night would end badly, I called down to the front desk to request a room change.

A short time later, a new key arrived along with an apology from the front-desk clerk who made the delivery. We changed rooms, went out for dinner and then Christmas shopping, as planned, returning to the room around 11 p.m.

Upon opening the door, I found an envelope on the floor. It had been slid into the room while we were gone. Inside was a note from the hotel manager apologizing for the inconvenience and offering to pay for our breakfast in the morning as a courtesy.

While I found the gesture amusing since the package we bought included breakfast, the fact that she had done this bolstered my opinion of Marriott as a chain and this hotel in particular. Because of the way the manager handled the situation and, ironically, because of the problem itself, I mentally added a “Like” next to the Providence Downtown Marriott.

By producing a job accurately and on time, a printer merely meets expectations. Even if the shop jumps through hoops to get a job out the door, a “Thank you.” is not likely to be heard from the customer—much less a, “Wow!” The “wow” comes only after a problem occurs, is resolved quickly and beyond expectation, and the response causes the client to take note.

As a 30 year sales veteran, Bill has the perspective of a been-there, done-that sales rep in the commercial print arena. Following sales fundamentals and giving unapologetically "old school" advice, he writes and speaks in an entertaining fashion to make his points to sales people and owners who sell. "Bill Farquharson will drive your sales momentum."
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