When Product Problems Arise, Don’t Lose Customers
When a product or service problem rears its ugly head, don’t sweep it under the rug. Instead, be up front with your customers by taking these three steps:
- Proactively tell your customers about the problem, the root cause and the plan to correct it.
- Actively listen to your customers concerns.
- Don’t repeat the mistake.
Being forthcoming with bad news is difficult, but your customers will appreciate your honest approach and will likely remain loyal.
How many of us call the customer before they arrive the hotel and
tell them that we are sold out and cannot honor their reservation?
How many of us go to a customer in the meeting room and tell them we
have a problem at the hotel and address it head on instead of hiding
in our offices waiting for the customer to come to us?
How many of us tell the guest BEFORE they go to the room,
that there is a problem (no TV, no Internet, pool closed,
fitness center closed, etc.)?
The subject of today’s blog is to address problems before the customer tells us there is a problem!
I’m specifically talking about the “big” stuff….. serious issues like the WiFi being out for long periods of time, or if your TV cable is down and they are not going to be able to watch “Dancing With The Stars” or “Monday Night Football” – then yes, tell the customer in advance.
Give the guest the option to stay or not stay – but don’t take their money, wish them a good stay and then wait until they get to the room, put on their PJs, crawl into bed, flip on the boob tube and “shazam” no show or no WiFi. Not only do you risk your hotel reputation for that customer, but you risk your travel reviews for future customers!
By simply being proactive and telling the guest at check-in, “Mr. Smith. Today around 2 pm our cable TV signal went down. While our cable company is working on the problem, they have not yet restored our service, and it may not happen tonight. I am afraid we only are able to access basic television service for this evening. Does this affect your stay and would you like to proceed, or would you like me to refer you to another hotel nearby? I am so very sorry for this inconvenience.” Put the decision in the customer’s hands. You may lose a customer for the night, but you shouldn’t lose them forever.
Similarly, there is nothing worse than arriving at the hotel and finding out you are being walked to another hotel due to an oversold situation. A proactive GM or DOS should always call the customer and explain the situation to them BEFORE they arrive at the hotel. Doing this in advance will eliminate the potential public confrontation at the front desk and will save the customer time if they are directed to another location in advance. They might not like it – but at least they don’t arrive, unpack the car (or worse – send the taxi away and have to wait for another taxi), drag their luggage to the front desk, and then have to reverse their steps. Put yourself in their shoes. If you are honest and upfront with the customer you are more likely to retain this customer in the future!
Please make sure you follow up each of these types of verbal apologies with a handwritten note. Don’t wait or let time pass – make sure you are writing and sending these notes or emails immediately with your sincere apology!