Friday, April 27, 2012

Tell Me What You Think...Isn't The Customer Always Right?

I received a phone call this evening asking me for a bit of advice.
Here's what happened.
     After a four hour drive, he checked into a well known hotel chain.    He was facing another four hour drive back, but he wouldn't be able to leave until well after midnight.   He decided to try to get a few hours sleep so that he would be up for the drive home.
     He was placed in a room which was on the first floor, next to a conference room.
Just as he was dozing off,  he was awakened by a booming voice, enhanced by a microphone.  The speaker was addressing a large group.  As the man soon discovered, the group was a religious group.
     The group was loudly enthusiastic and quite boisterous.
     The man became irate for two reasons.  First he was woken up.  Second, he was appalled that the hotel staff would not be sensitive to the fact that the guest who was placed in that particular room might not want to be exposed to the teachings of religious beliefs that were not his own.
     The man went to the front desk to voice his displeasure.  The desk clerk apologized and offered to have the man's room changed.  The man was not satisfied with the offer and asked to speak to the manager.  The clerk phoned the manager.  The manager did not want to speak to the man, but the man insisted so the clerk handed the phone to the guest.
     The guest tried to get the manager to understand that the hotel staff should be more sensitive to its guests. The manager became just as irate as the man.  Finally, the guest backed off, but he promised the manager that he would be addressing his issues in a letter to corporate headquarters.
     I must say I was taken aback by the behavior of the manager.  Isn't the customer always right?
Different story.
     About a month ago, Ross and I went out to dinner.   We were seated in a cozy little room, which was quite empty at first.  Our order was taken right away and our first course arrived quickly.  In between our first and second course, a large group of men entered, and practically took up the whole room.  They were loud and boisterous.  Conversation between Ross and I came to a halt.   The whole wait staff began to administer to the man group, taking drink and appetizer orders.  After 20 minutes, our second course still was not out.  Ross motioned to the waitress.  She apologized and said she would check on our order.  After waiting another 5 minutes, we spotted the waitress taking man group's orders.  Ross asked to speak to the manager.  The manger was quite abrupt, saying he would check on our meal.  After another 15 minutes, Ross and I got up.  We did not want to leave without notifying the waitress or manager, but they were no where to be found, so we left.  As we were walking towards the stairs, the manager came running after us.  He was noticeably upset.  He begged us to stay.  We told him no.  But he would not take no for an answer.  He said he would pick up the whole check,  and put us in a private room.  We gave in.  I have to say we got the royal treatment.   Now that manager knows the meaning of "The customer is always right".

What do you think about these two stories?


  1. Interesting. It seems like when the customer doesn't make a big deal out of the issue (just wants the problem solved), the problem is solved with both parties some what satisfied. Seems to me that becoming angry just makes other people angry. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I don't even think it's the customer is always right, I think it's just common politeness, if somebody is paying for something and it is ruined, an apology goes a long way.

  3. I think that both managers were trying to get the customer to back off so he didn't have to confront the real issues.  Although you were treated like royalty in the end should it have gotten to the point where you had to leave?  He could have done the private room thing from the beginning. 

  4. In the first instance the guest was not going take no for an answer under any circumstances. Clearly, some staff member was not thinking when they booked a religious speaker so close to a guest room but done is done. The manager tried to make an accommodation by giving the guest a new room. What did the guest want? The manager could not undo the offense so he did the next best thing. It always takes two for a bargain to be struck.

    In the second instance the manager did the right thing as well and comped the couple. Again, the problem was already there and could not be undone except by asking the large party to leave. That is not a real option and would lead to more confrontation. 

  5. In the first story, the desk manager apologized and offered to move the guest. He did the right thing.. The guest should have accepted the offer. When he got home the guest should have sent a letter to corporate and explained what happened and suggested that corporate notify the hotel manager about the situation and tell the manager that they need to be more sensitive to where they are placing guest. I think the guest was overly tired and overly sensitive,
    In the second story,  I applaud you for getting up to leave. That was totally handled wrong by the reservation staff and the wait staff. Accepting the managers offer to comp your meal was acceptable and exactly what they should have done. They could have gone one step further and asked if you wanted to continue to dine that evening or if you would have like to return on another evening (on them).