A tale of two customer experiences
It was a warm Saturday in October 2015. I drove to Orlando, Florida, from my home state Louisiana, for a mini vacation and a meeting. I was staying at a Best Western Hotel, close to many attractions Orlando has to offer to visitors. I have been staying at Best Western hotels for more than 10 years now. As of that day, you could have called me a loyal Best Western customer. After enjoying a warm day, I got a good night’s sleep on Sunday night. I woke up Monday morning and got ready for an 8.30 am meeting. I walked to the parking lot at 7.30 am and got in my car. I was mentally rehearsing what I had planned to discuss with the person I was about to meet; I was anticipating a great meeting.When I pressed the start button, the car made a weird noise and would not start. I panicked. I was frustrated about not able to make it to the meeting. My face was sweaty and I felt tense. I opened the hood of the car, and stood there for a while…
I walked up to the front desk of the Best Western hotel and explained my situation. “Can you or someone help me jump-start my car?”, I asked. I had jumper cables in my car in case of a situation like this. The Best Western representative (let’s call him Darren) said, “We cannot do it for you. The car might blow up. We have stopped doing anything like that here.” Darren went on to tell me that his hotel does not help customers in situations like this because it might be dangerous. I almost begged him to help me. I remember blurting out, “so you have a policy not to help your customers?” Darren informed me that they really cannot do much about it.
After a frustrating conversation with Darren, I walked back to my car, sat in the driver seat and decided to press the OnStar button. OnStar is a helpline service that General Motors vehicles are equipped with. I immediately had an OnStar representative (rep) on the call. The OnStar rep started the process by asking, “Are you in a safe location?” The rep asked me questions to understand what my problem was. Once the rep understood the problem, she set up the roadside assistance and also offered to text me the progress of the process. A helpful roadside assistant arrived within the time-frame stated during the call. He fixed the battery related problem of my car, and gave me a few tips on maintaining the battery until I get back home. I was able to start my car and get on with my day. I also received a follow up text from OnStar. I was really pleased with OnStar’s service.
While the Best Western person utilized his creativity to come up with excuses, the OnStar person just asked me the right questions ensuring my safety and worked on sending assistance to me as soon as possible. The OnStar team probably has a checklist they follow so they can provide consistent and positive customer experience. The OnStar business model is based on viewing a customer’s problem as an opportunity to serve and earning a great living doing it. I, the customer, have already talked positively to friends about OnStar.
How would you react if you were a customer service representative in this situation? If you lead projects for your clients or sponsors, you would find yourself in similar situations. When you do, make the choice to listen. I appeal you to take the high road and put yourself in the shoes of your customer. When you approach a client in need with a mindset to serve, and listen to their problems, you will find your opportunity to add value. The opportunity would become the seed for your growth and success.
When you practice your leadership craft with a mindset to serve, your clients will trust you with their problems. If your customer is your boss, they might give you a raise. If your customer is a client, they would call you to take on new projects. If your customer is your employee, they will go the extra mile to help you achieve your vision. You will achieve the success you have been looking for.