Can Your Employees Make Things Right for Unhappy Customers?

On a recent trip to Chicago, our hotel suite was a mess.

The door between the living/kitchen area and bedroom was missing. The curtain didn’t cover the entire window, making it impossible to escape from the glaring mid-afternoon sun. And, as if that wasn’t enough, there was a raucous bachelor party going on next door – in the middle of the day.

Under the circumstances, we couldn’t imagine putting our two-year-old down for a nap. So we called the front desk. They apologized and switched our room. They even sent a maintenance guy to our new room to make sure everything was in order.

I know, I know. You’ve heard it all before. What the hotel did was standard practice. But what the maintenance guy did before he left was an example of excellent customer service.

He promised us two free movies (at $10 a pop) for our trouble. We figured the front desk would give us a hard time about this during check out. But, sure enough, all we had to do was mention “Ron,” and the charges were removed immediately.

The hotel’s management had given a lowly maintenance guy (and presumably other employees) the authority to dish out “comps” without checking in with a higher-up. They trusted their employees to take care of customer complaints appropriately.

What’s the lesson here? Giving your employees the authority to appease dissatisfied customers – within limits, of course – is a smart way to handle complaints quickly and with minimum fuss.