If you’ve attended one of my keynotes or training sessions, you know I like to teach by sharing real-world examples of exceptional customer experiences and I also like to share real examples of jaw-dropping crappy customer service. Both sides of the coin can teach you valuable insights.
Well, today, as I travel back home from Dallas, I am going to share a bad customer experience, with the intent of inspiring you to do better when it comes to talking to your customers.
The hotel stay started out pretty great. Check-in was quick and easy and the front desk lady was friendly and warm. My light vegetarian dinner arrived quickly and it was so tasty that I literally ate every bite.
The next day, I returned to my room after lunch around 2pm and my key would not open my door. I tried again. I turned the key upside down. Then backwards. Still nothing.
So I went to the front desk. There stood the lady who impressed me the day before with her friendliness and warmth. I explained that my key would not open my door. What happened next stunned me.
“We changed the lock on your door. My co-worker told me not to let you in.” What the hell? “Why would you change my locks?” I asked. “Because your card is no good.”
Okay. Stop right there.
If, in fact, my credit card was no good, isn’t there a better way to handle this? How about calling my room or my cell number and asking me about it so I could fix it?
How about phrasing your words better, like, “Ms. Golden, we weren’t able to authorize charges on your credit card.”
But here’s the thing. I prepaid for my room when I booked it on hotels.com. Right there at the front desk I pulled up my email on my iPhone to verify it. Then I went to my Bank of America app and verified that the charge had cleared. It had.
What could possibly be the problem with a paid up front and in full room? Additionally, the hotel had successfully hit my card for a deposit and dinner the night before.
I showed the front desk lady my phone with the paid in full receipt. And she said “Your card is no good. I cannot let you back in your room.” My head started pounding.
I asked to speak with a manager. “No one else is here.” But before I could lose my mind, a man walked up. I don’t know if we was a manager, but I was grateful to have another employee to speak with.
Here’s how Jamie (I read her name tag) explained my situation to the employee who walked up.
“This lady’s card is no good and I also told her she cannot get into her room.”
I am speechless… and that is a good thing right now.
The man did not introduce himself or even speak to me. He simply asked for my card, read something on the screen and ran my card, then picked up the phone.
Jamie tells the man that 3 other guests today have had “bad” credit cards and that their doors have been locked. Could this not be a system problem? What are the chances that 4 hotel guests in one afternoon have “bad” credit cards?
The guy hung up the phone, handed my card back and said, “You pre paid for your room. It’s fine. We were not able to authorize your card for dinner in the restaurant. The computer says your card is declined because it’s expired, but I can see your card expires 9/18 (It is currently January, 2015). The problem is on our end. Don’t worry about it. You can now enter your room.”
He didn’t apologize, but he was a lot better at communicating than Jamie.
There was likely a computer glitch causing the problem. I get that. My problem is with the human glitch. Jamie didn’t know how to talk to customers. Here’s where she went wrong.
- Jamie bluntly exclaimed that my card was no good. In matters of declined credit cards, employees need to be discrete and tactful. “Ms. Golden, we weren’t able to authorize charges on your credit card.” would have been better. Even better still would be to call up the hotel guest and try to resolve the issue over the telephone.
- Jamie made no effort to resolve the problem. She simply repeated her “Your card is no good” statement and made no effort to resolve the problem. She didn’t even ask me for another credit card. She didn’t offer to re run the initial card. She didn’t bat an eye when I showed her my paid in full receipt. She just stood there.
- Jamie didn’t apologize or show empathy. She simply tooted, “Your card is no good.”
Teach your employees how to talk to customers. It’s really a matter of empathy, effort, and respect.
Don’t let your employees be caught talking to customers like Jamie talked to me.
On Demand Webinar – A video recording that you can download immediately and have forever.
How to Talk to Customers: Empathy, Tone and Making Personal Emotional Connections
The biggest problem with the customer experience in most companies is how employees talk to customers. All too often, employees come across as indifferent, cold, uncaring, rushed or rude. This employee “attitude problem” can be the tipping point that sends customers to the competition. This attitude problem is what drives customers to tweet and blog about a poor customer experience. The great news is, with the right training, monitoring and coaching, employees can learn how to soften tones, truly convey empathy, make customers feel taken care of and even make memorable personal emotional connections with customers.
In this extended training event, Myra shows your employees, step-by-step, how to talk to your customers. You’ve gotta read this outline!