Thursday, 6 October 2011

Is the Customer Always Right?

The changes and requirements of the Front Desk Agent  From Priceline to Hotwire to Booking.com we are constantly bombarded with new customers and clients via these sites.  Gone are the days of the simple weary traveller looking for a place to stay for the night after a long day of driving.  We are now faced today, as Front Desk Agents, with the technological era arming our consumers with the ability to shop the global hospitality industry from their smart phones while ordering at a drive through.  While this drives revenue for our industry it can also harm it as well.  Back before the days of the information highway, guests were happy just to have a clean room with a hot shower, perhaps a muffin in the morning before a thank you and room payment.  Now we have to constantly walk on eggshells with all of our clients in hopes we are perfectly attentive, the room is ever-so-spotless, the pool is the perfect temperature for junior and the breakfast better feature organic fruit, free range eggs and gluten free bread.  We now face the daunting task of pleasing the entire world or so help us God our hippy liberal tree hugging clients will go online and crucify us for all to see.  We are no longer being held accountable for the right reasons we are being held accountable to every single hate mongering loud mouthed neck beard with an opinion and an email account. 

The complaints I have seen become almost comical when you see things like "We had to wait in line to check in" and "No valet parking" keeping in mind these people are bidding $73.00 CAD for a room.  One woman proceeded to bash our property because the weather was not "As good as she had hoped".  Another complaint ended up costing us loosing our benchmark within our district for a short period of time due to this fellow finding a receipt from Walmart on the hallway carpet in front of his room. 

Where do we as Front desk Agents Draw the line?  How can we tell if the person on the other end of the line has a legitimate complaint and is not simply using the system for a free lunch?  One simple way to tell is  if the consumer is verbally abusive and generally a horses behind, that is usually a clear indicator that s/he is just voicing a mellow dramatic unnecessary opinion usually in hopes of getting something for free to shut s/he up.  The true complaint usually comes from the polite and shy guest who is usually reluctant to complain to begin with.  These are the guests whom should be taken seriously and every measure within our power put in place to compensate them for their issue. 

So what does it all boil down to?  It is of my firm belief that complaint resolution and assessment models put in place have to be reexamined in order to implement what I would call a "Complaint Legitimacy Factor".  CLF would obviously need its own set of parameters and formulae implemented as soon as the complaint is received by an unbiased third party department within the company handling your properties complaints.  We currently work with Medallia but the principal is universal for any consumer surveying company.  Once the CLF is established on a one to ten scale we are now cutting down the amount of time and energy being put into false claims. 

Insurance agencies have been doing something similar adjusters for almost a century now. Why is it that the hotel industry is so far behind in adjusting their own complaint resolution accordingly?  How much money is being wasted annually just to shut people up?  The old adage "The customer is always right!" may have worked for Mom & Pops corner grocery stores in the fifties, but in today's world this is just a loophole for the greedy to exploit.  The consumer is no longer always right, the consumer is now and angry child that we must appease with treats, candy and praise or so help us God they will have a temper tantrum on the Internet and destroy our business.  With CLF we can simply say to the man having an aneurysm over a dog that gave him a funny look in the lobby, "I am sorry for your trouble sir, but we feel this is not an issue that needs addressing.  Goodbye.".  No free lunch.  No discounted room.  The complaint is erased from history and the consumer is left with a sense of being chastened for wasting the rest of everyone else's time.  In the case of a woman who's room was flooded due to a burst pipe, CLF goes straight to ten and her issue is placed in the top of the queue, she is compensated immediately and her issue is resolved.  CLF allows us to prioritize complaint resolution in the sense that urgent and pressing guest issues are being handled immediately and frivolous complaints are hung out to dry where they belong.  This ultimately allows agents to resolve real issues more efficiently without wasting time on temper tantrums essentially saving millions and creating a more responsible consumer market.

1 comment:

  1. haha you almost have logic down to a mathematical formula ;D

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