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Fly With Waldo

The Westin Hotel: Customer Service Wingman of the Month

The Westin Hotel is my new favorite hotel.  And Brian Green is my new favorite concierge.

Here’s why.

Waldo Waldman at WestinThe hotel industry relies upon creating the ultimate customer service experience which is critical in building a reputable brand and maintaining a loyal customer base.  I travel extensively, so when I experience good (or not so good) customer service, it makes a big difference in my stay and in my perception of that particular hotel brand as a whole.

A few weeks ago, I was staying at the Westin Hotel in downtown Denver and just completed a keynote for my client.  I needed to ship supplies back to my office so I stopped by the concierge desk and spoke with the head concierge, Brian Green, to arrange for a FedEx ground shipment.

Unfortunately, he was out of ground shipment forms so instead, he offered me an air shipment form. However, because this was not time critical, there was no reason for me to pay the significant extra charge to ship the box via air.

I became a bit frustrated. I didn’t want to lug my large box to another FedEx store just because the hotel was out of ground shipment forms. Call me thrifty, but I also didn’t feel like paying the extra money to ship it via air. Brian sensed my frustration and told me he would look a little harder for the forms. I waited in anticipation, wondering how this would turn out.

He returned a minute later with the air shipment form in hand and told me he would ship it via air at no charge.  Brian’s next comment was on target.  He said, “You shouldn’t have to pay for something that the hotel should have taken care of in the first place.”

Wow! My attitude instantly shifted from frustrated to satisfied.   I shook his hand, thanked him for being my wingman, and told him he would be hearing from me.

Was Brian’s service out of the ordinary? Not necessarily. He did what any quality vendor would do.   After all, if you can’t deliver on your service promises, the customer shouldn’t be penalized. But these days it seems the opposite is true.  Good (or even average) customer service is rare.  Merchants are always cutting corners and they would rather save money than take care of the customer when they make mistakes.   More often than not, the customer has to “suck it up.” (Airlines, I hope you’re paying attention!)

When it comes to good customer service, sometimes a small concession on the part of a merchant can yield huge results. Brian’s simple action totally changed my experience with the hotel. Sure, it cost the Westin $50.00, but in the long run that was a small price to pay to keep a customer happy and their reputation intact. Word travels fast.

When you can’t accommodate your customer’s needs or expectations, what do you do? Do you make an excuse and send them on their way? Or do you add a line item to your expense account and take care of them. Most importantly, do you empower your employees to take action that is in the best interest of the customer, even if may cost a little extra?

Sometimes, how you respond when you fail to meet a customer’s expectations can create an even bigger impact than when you meet their expectations! And you just never know when and how that experience will be shared.

At the Westin, I didn’t get what I wanted or even expected. I got more. Today, I’m a loyal fan and my new wingman is Brian Green.  I hope my next client books me to speak at a Westin hotel.  And guess what? Now I’m sharing my experience with 15,000 people who subscribe to my newsletter, I will post this on my Facebook page and tweet about it to 10,000 more people.  These days, you can’t buy that type of advertising for $50.00!

Customer Service Fighter JetsIt pays to be a wingman.

Push it up!

Waldo