Sleepless night and a surly service
May 19, 2013
Bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to start the new day.
A few weeks ago I arrived at the Travelodge in Bristol at 10:10 PM after a four-hour journey. Check-in was efficient and within minutes I was in my room. I had requested a quiet room and so I was alarmed to discover that the traffic noise outside my room was so noisy I thought that the window had been left open. It hadn’t. With it being late, I couldn’t face complaining and so decided to turn on the TV to drown out the traffic noise.
The television didn’t work.
I paid a visit to reception and was told there were no quiet rooms available, no batteries and no spare remote controls. Instead I was offered a complimentary evening meal (at 10:30?!) or a discount on my next stay.
I then discovered that the mattress was so old that the springs were protruding from end to end, with only the thinnest layer of fabric to stop them from breaking out of their confines.
A few days later I received the ubiquitous e-feedback form. I spent 10 minutes completing it, explaining the problems, deciding that an absence of melodrama or thinly veiled expletives were best avoided. I did however in the comments section add “I am curious to know if you will actually pick up the phone and respond to my feedback or ignore it completely.”
I’ve not heard a bean from Travelodge which does suggest their feedback process is a farce.
So what can you learn from this experience?
- If you’re competing on price, you can’t give customers everything and they don’t expect everything. But, you have to be brilliant at the basics and deliver their expectations. I didn’t expect fluffy Egyptian towels and Jo Malone toiletries in the bathroom for £42. But I did expect a quiet room, a comfortable bed and a television that worked.
- When seeking customer feedback, don’t regard it as a ‘going through the motions’ exercise. Respond swiftly to complaints. Unhappy customers enable you to improve your business. They highlight glitches and faults that you may otherwise be oblivious to. Remember, most customers don’t like complaining in person even when on the receiving end of bad service.
- Empower your staff to make decisions in the customer’s favour.
- Double check customer requests before delivering your product or service. A quiet room is just that. Not a room by two lanes of noisy traffic.
And never take your customers for granted or treat them like second-class citizens.