Tale of Two Customers Experiences

It was the best of customer experiences, it was the worst of customer experiences.  Odd that they both took place during the same conference.

BAD:

I attended the 2009 Maryland Library Association conference held at the Clarion hotel in Ocean City, Maryland.  I left my home in Northwest Baltimore County to travel to Maryland’s Eastern Shore around 6:30 pm.  Believe it or not I’m not familiar with Ocean City despite being a Maryland native.  I’m more of a Rehoboth Beach, DE kinda of girl.  So I took my trusty GPS with me so I wouldn’t get lost.  Of course that is exactly what happened or at least it took me on a very round about way to the Clarion in OC.

For some reason the day before a large convention which had most of the hotel booked they decided to paint half of their parking lot.  So when I get there there was no parking on the same side of the street as the hotel.  I parked in front of the office area and walked in to see where I could park.  “Hi, I’m here to attend a convention and I’m staying the night.  Can you tell me where I can park, your lot is full.” “There is overflow parking across the street.” is what I heard back.  No, “Oh let me check you in first since you’ll need to place a tag on your car” or “Would you like to check in now and then park your car?”  Instead I get back in my car, drive down a couple lights to find a spot where I can do a U-turn and park my car.  Since I’ve heard horror stories of people being hit while crossing Coastal Highway, I decided to be a good pedisterian and crossed at the crosswalk, drag my bag on the sidewalk until I get back to the hotel.

When I get there I see four people working the desk, three of them talking to each other and one actually helping someone.  Finally one of the talkers looks up and asks me if I’d like to check in.  After I check in and get my key she then tells that I need to hang this tag on my car which is now unconviently parked across an eight lane highway.  It wasn’t that big a deal to walk over there it was just the topping on poor customer service.  Good customer service would have dictated that when I came in to find out where to park they should have offered to check me in and give me the tag then.

In this day and age with the economy depressed as it is and businesses failing left and right customer service, good customer service is MORE essential than ever.  Just because I am attending a conference in your hotel does not mean I have to book a room in your hotel.  I can assure you that next year if I attend MLA 2010 I won’t be staying at the Clarion.  I’ll find a place that actually understands what proper customer service looks like.

103_1120GOOD:

Thank goodness I was able to experience the opposite of the above customer service issue while I was still in Ocean City.  Thursday night I went to dinner with a good friend.  Since he is more familiar with Ocean City and what they have to offer I asked him to pick the place.  We drove up to Galaxy66 Bar and Grille.   As I walked through the door I realized that this was going to be a different dinning experience.  The decor, colors used, even the plates on the table set a tone.  Then from the moment we walked in the customer service and attention to detail was excellent.

I asked our waiters if they served Coke products.  Sounds a bit odd but I’ve made the mistake over the years of asking for a Diet Coke but they fail to tell me that it’s really Diet Pepsi.   I explained to the guys that I had gone all day without a Diet Coke and I was jonesing big time.  That was just the start.  They brought me a Diet Coke and before the last drop was finished there was another glass was brought to me.  Their attention was the right blend of anticipating what we needed, asking us and staying away so we could chat and dine.  The menu was unique.  The flavor combinations were different but they worked.  I was pleasantly surprised with my bokchoy salad – red curry aioli, scallion crepe, radiccio, yellow and orange peppers, crispy lo mein noodles and shoestring carrots.  I then followed that very generous portion of salad with the gnocchi – seasonal mushrooms, rocket, garlic truffle oil, aged Parmesan.  Dinner was accompanied by toasted bread with my favorite herb, rosemary.

103_1117It was a wonderful time to spend with an old friend and the restuarant only made it better.  I judge a restaurant not only by it’s customer service, food but also by it’s ladies room.  It doesn’t have to be fancy but just clean.  Well, Galaxy66 had both.  The funky decor continued into the ladies room and it was clean.  To me that means you care – if you care about that then I have faith that the kitchen has as much if not more care given to it.  The icing on the cake for me was the card that came with the bill.  Being the social web guru that I am I absolutely loved seeing that they were on Facebook.  When I visited their web site they are also listed as being on Twitter.  You know I just had to follow and friend them.  Thank you to our waiters, the chef and the manager of Galaxy66 for great customer service, a wonderful unique meal and making my short stay in Ocean City a lot better (especially after the Clarion’s boo-boo).

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6 Responses to Tale of Two Customers Experiences

  1. Renee Vitilio says:

    Just because you are attending a conference, does not mean that you have a room reservation and are checking into the hotel….apparently you assume that everyone can read your mind – travel much?

  2. mlibrarianus says:

    Renee,

    I didn’t expect anyone to read my mind. I regret that I wasn’t clear in my post about what I said to the person behind the counter.

    Not sure I understand why would I ask a hotel where I’m not attending a conference or not staying to tell me where I could park my car? I didn’t ask where public parking was – I asked where I could park because of attending a conference and spending the night in THEIR hotel. She understood because she told me that the Clarion overflow parking was across the highway. She didn’t direct me to public parking.

    My understanding of good customer service includes making sure both you and the customer understand each other. If you are unsure of what someone is asking you, clarify. Paraphrase or repeat back to make sure you both understand. None of that was done. Poor customer service stems from not actively listening (which should includes paraphrasing or repeating what the customer asked you to be sure you both are on the same page).

    Sorry to say this has nothing to do with the amount someone travels but about giving good customer service.

  3. Lori Reed says:

    This is what happens when your customer service people are more interested in socializing than in helping people. Also a result of the customer service people not having walked in your shoes.

    First step of customer service training here would be to have all the front desk staff actually go through the process of driving in, parking, and checking in.

  4. Rachel Rappaport says:

    Ah, the same exact thing happened to me when I stayed at the Clarion last year for MLA. I walked back and fourth to my car WAY too many times that trip!

  5. Renee Vitilio says:

    You’re right about taking care of customers first instead of chatting amongst themselves. That is one of my biggest pet peeves; however, I stand by my statement that if you are attending a conference it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a room reservation and need to check into the hotel – it may mean that you are just there for the meeting that day in which case you would be parking your car, attending the meeting, and then leaving. Did you actually tell the clerk that you were checking in? If so, then I agree it was very poor customer service, but if you only asked where you could park because you were attending a conference, that’s another story.

    • mlibrarianus says:

      I clearly stated to the person behind the desk that I was attending a conference in their hotel (which had started that day with a pre-conference) and was STAYING THE NIGHT in their hotel. Even if I hadn’t been clear the point is as a customer service representative of any company/business it is their duty to be sure that both sides are on the same page. It is what I do when I’m dealing with customers in person, over the phone or via email. I was clear, they just gave poor customer service.

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