Customer Service. The very concept has become so abused and diluted. Those companies making an effort to improve upon it have been touting their attention to customer service as a benefit of dealing with them as compared to a competitor. Whatever happened?
At a recent stay at a MainStay Suites hotel in upstate South Carolina, I was reminded of what customer service is all about. This is an award-winning hotel, one of the top locations in their chain. This particluar hotel is operated by Angie Palomino, a local entreprenaur. Regardless, Choice Hotels does drive policy and procedure standards for all of their operations, but Angie does far more than simply adhere to minimum standards. She views customer service as her sole product.
This particular location is located close to such outstanding corporations as Michelin, Timken and BMW. They often will have groups of visiting employees as guests for weeks at a time. Angie understands the unique expectations of her guests, especially foreign ones, designing details of their stay to offer them the most comfort and relaxing experience. She does a great job, earning her the highest awards in her company and industry. She is proud of her record and ever mindful of improving upon it.
The evening manager, Michelle, is a wonderful example of a customer service oriented employee. When I arrived, She greeted me by name, even though I am there no more than once per month. At first, I thought I was extra special, but soon noticed that she knew the names of all of the frequent and semi-frequent guests. She sponsors a managers reception each evening for guests to mingle and enjoy refreshments and snacks. She makes it a point to visit with everyone and learn something about them and their reason for staying.
That evening after dinner, I arrived back at the hotel a bit later than usual. The reception was winding up as I headed to my room. A few minutes later, the phone rang and Michelle was asking if I had a chance to get my Cherios? She was about to close up the kitchen and lock the door. You see, she knows that I like to snack on a couple of mini boxes of Cherios later in the evening with my de-caf coffee. She always allows me to go into the kitchen to get my cereal even though there is a sign on the door stating "employees only." She also knows that I prefer interior rooms on the first floor, and always manages to have one for me. Once, after four weeks of not being her guest, Michelle called me at my office to make me aware of an upcoming convention that was rapidly consuming their rooms for the next week. She didn't want me to call for a reservation and find that there was no room at the inn if my business would bring me there that week. How considerate!
Why would I ever stay anywhere else? I wouldn't. Angie runs a first class hotel operation and has top employees like Michelle to make customer experiences as pleasant as possible. Staying there is like visiting a friend and who doesn't like to do business with their friends? Active and vibrant customer service is certainly alive and well at the MainStay Suites hotel in Greenville, SC.
What are you actively doing to ensure the comfort, satisfaction and repeat business of your customers?