This week I have been away from home due to business and I spent Monday night at The Suites Hotel in Knowsley near Liverpool. My experience at this hotel suggests that a company can make a poor impression and yet turn all that around by a strong ending. Let me illustrate.
I arrived at the hotel on Monday evening whilst it was dark, windy, cold and the heavens were pouring with rain. The area between the outside doors and the reception desk was unusual, it was natural and it was inviting. That area was shaped as semi-circle full of attractive stones, pebbles, terracotta pots and plants. So I already felt good about checking into the hotel.
The young lady on the reception desk was friendly and efficient: she checked me in quickly and in a few minutes I was on the way to my room. The directions to the lift and the room were clear and concise so I made my way to the room without any trouble. Once inside the room I was pleasantly surprised: the room looked more like a flat then a room – there was a lounge and a bedroom. I appreciated the space, I appreciated the colours, I appreciated the layout. So far excellent. Then it started to go downhill.
I felt so at home that after taking a bath I decided to iron my spare trousers that had become creased as a result of being packed in my luggage. My delight with the hotel suddenly turned sour: I noticed that there were black marks on these trousers. When I got over the shock, I took a look at the iron and noticed that a part of the ironing surface was covered with black, charcoal type, stuff. As you can imagine I was not at all pleased, I felt let down: have my trousers been damaged beyond repair, what happens now that I do not have a spare trousers, who is going to make things right?
So I rang reception to tell them what had happened. I was put through to the duty manager, who listened to my complaint. She stated that she was sorry and assured me that she would have the iron looked at the next day. As I hung up I noticed that I was neither happy with myself nor with the Duty Manager. I had not asked clearly for what I wanted. And the Duty Manager had not offered to fix the issue: I had been left with a damaged trousers and no spare trousers.
When the time came to sleep I got under the covers only to notice that something was not right toward my feet. So I got up, switched the lights on and pulled the cover towards the end of the bed. I immediately noticed that the bed had not been made properly: the sheet was not tucked in and there was a problem with the duvet cover – so both of these had caught my feet. So I got up and spent the next five minutes making the bed. And I wondered why the hotel staff had failed to do this basic and essential task right. I went to sleep disappointed and thinking that I was not going to book into this hotel again!
The next day as I went to breakfast I asked to speak to the Duty Manager and proceeded to tell her of the issues. She listened and made notes of what I had told her about the bed not being made. Then I gave her my damaged trousers, an address and my mobile phone number. I explained that I need a spare set of trousers and asked her to get the trousers fixed and sent to me asap – to the address where I was headed. She promised me that she would do just that – dry clean and forward them to me. Later I left the hotel doubting that the promise would be kept and fully expecting to give the hotel a poor rating on TripAdvisor.
To my surprise I got a message on that very afternoon from the Duty Manager to say that she was delighted to tell me that my trousers had come back perfect from the dry cleaners and she was checking that it was ok for her to send it to me. I rang her back to say yes and asked for the trousers to be sent by next day delivery. She – Melanie – agreed and did jus that: I received a package on Wednesday morning. When I opened it in the evening I found my spare trousers in perfect condition – clean and ironed. I was delighted with Melanie and The Suites Hotel for employing such good staff and creating an environment that did not prevent these staff to do what is right by the customer!
Where am I at right now. At an emotional (limbic brain) level I am delighted with the service that I have got from The Suites Hotel. I am particularly grateful to Melanie the Duty Manager who did what she promised that she would do. I feel that I have been acknowledged and respected as a human being. And as result of that I trust this hotel to do the right thing.
At an intellectual level, I am thinking that the start was great. Yes, some things went amiss during the middle but some things went right as well for example I enjoyed my dining experience in the hotel restaurant. And the hotel finished strongly by honouring the promise and making things right by me.
To sum it up: I have gone from thinking-feeling that I will never stay at this hotel to thinking-feeling that I will definitely stay at this hotel next time I am in the area. Furthermore, I will be recommending the hotel on TripAdvisor. And all because of the strong ending!
One last thought: I note that it was so easy (and quick) to talk to the Duty Manager (Melanie). In fact it was exceptionally quick compared to many organisations that make it difficult for the customer to get through to someone with the authority to act. Clearly this hotel gets the importance of acting swiftly on customer complaints.