By: Rhonda Scharf
No, Nicole … Thank You!
I stay in hotels three to four nights a week. I’m not overly picky, but I certainly have hotel chains that I prefer.
This week, while staying at the Hampton Inn in Gilbert, Ariz., I ran into Nicole.
She was spectacular! While I’m not a demanding guest, I’m also not easily impressed, either. (I’ve seen some pretty magnificent hotels). Nicole impressed me.
From the moment I walked in the door, to the call to my room to get my cell phone number (just in case I forgot anything behind), to the texts, the cheery welcomes each time I walked in the door, and the chocolate chip cookies, she went above and beyond her role, and I felt like I was the only guest in the hotel.
As I mentioned, I stay in a lot of hotels. A lot of them come with a higher prestige and price point than the Hampton Inn, but rarely have I ever met an employee at any hotel chain who was so concerned about my comfort in their hotel.
What struck me was how one employee could have a significant impact on a customer’s experience.
Do your employees take that much care of your customers? Do they go out of their way to make them feel welcome, to ensure their comfort, to guarantee their satisfaction? Or, are they more concerned with getting each person dealt with and then moving on to the next customer? The motorcoach, travel and tourism industry is competitive. Are your employees making a point to stand out from the competition or does everyone look the same to the customer?
What did Nicole do that most customer service reps don’t do?
1. She made me feel like I was the only guest in the hotel. While it wasn’t a large hotel, it wasn’t boutique style either. That meant there were potentially a couple of hundred guests at any time. It never felt that way. When I walked into the lobby (each time), I felt welcome. It might have been the “Welcome to our hotel” when I first walked in, or the “Welcome back” she shared when I returned each day. She remembered she had seen me, was familiar, and it made me feel like I belonged there instead of being an intrusion in her day.
Once I checked in and made it up to my room, she called me to make sure everything was okay. While that isn’t overly unusual, she also asked for my cell number, just in case I left anything behind so they could text me and let me know they had it. That was new, and when you are leaving hotels barely awake at 3 a.m. for an early flight, things do get left behind, so I was happy to give her my cell number.
Nicole texted me several times throughout my stay to ensure all was well. Each time she was incredibly pleasant, easy to deal with, and overly helpful. It didn’t feel intrusive; it felt welcoming. If she did that with each person in the hotel, how on earth did she have time to deal with all the guests at the front desk? She made me feel like I was the only one she was taking care of, and quite frankly, that felt fantastic.
2. She was focused on my satisfaction. While I had no complaints, I did share my appreciation with her one afternoon. She almost blushed, as if she didn’t get that kind of feedback often (which is a shame) and was very appreciative of my praise. It is easy to give thanks to people who need it, appreciate it, and deserve it. I am generally quite thankful when dealing with the public-facing service sector (I am more than aware how difficult their jobs are), but Nicole’s appreciation was far more about turning it around to, once again, ensure that I was happy rather than ensure that her boss was aware I was grateful. Her entire focus was on me, and not on herself.
3. She let me know that she appreciated me. I get overly frustrated when I go to a place of business, conduct my business, and finish with my sincere “Thank yous” only to receive an “uh-huh” in response. That casual response sounds to me like, “Sure. Whatever. This is what I get paid to do,” as opposed to “Thank you for doing business here. Without customers, I have no job!” Nicole maintained eye contact; she smiled sincerely, she always seemed genuinely sincere.
As Maya Angelou once said, “People never forget how you made them feel.” Well thank you, Nicole, I feel like a million bucks!
Rhonda Scharf is a Canadian Speaking Hall of Fame inductee as well as a trainer and author based in Ottawa, Canada. Rhonda has earned the highest speaking designation in the world, the “Certified Speaking Professional” designation. In 2004, Rhonda served as the National President of the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers, has served on the Board of the Global Speaker Federation and is named in the current edition of “Who’s Who in Professional Speakers” (where she has been listed since 1998). You can learn more at www.on-the-right-track.com.