My family and I had an interesting customer service interaction this past weekend. We had some out of town guests visiting New Orleans so we decided to book a few hotel rooms and all stay together rather than hop onto the I-10 in the wee hours and attempt to tackle an hour long drive.
Room check in #1: Friday evening. Reservation ‘not in the system’ for a 3 night stay that had been booked several weeks prior. After a 30 minute tussle with a disinterested complacent desk clerk that included showing her the confirmation email and the corresponding “your payment has been received and your credit card has been charged” email, the situation was finally sorted out (amidst a number of eye-rolls on the part of the desk clerk) and keys were handed over.
Room check in #2: Saturday evening. Reservation ‘not in the system’ for a 1 night stay that had been booked several weeks prior. Thus began our tussle with another disinterested complacent desk clerk (we’ll call her Tammy). We showed her reservation confirmations and gave her numbers; we rehashed the situation the night before and how, apparently, there was some disconnect between this hotel’s register and reservation systems. Tammy was hard-pressed to either understand or problem-solve, and after 10 minutes she asked us to stand to the side while she checked in other people. Because, naturally, there was a line 8 people deep and she was the only clerk on duty.
So we moved on over while the next customer came to the counter. Another reservation ‘not in the system.’ So Tammy fiddled and typed and let the phone go unanswered. And after 10 minutes got it sorted out and handed over room keys. Tammy then asked the next customer in line to step up (as we stood right next to her). Another reservation ‘not in the system.’ But once again, Tammy fiddled and typed and after 10 minutes got it sorted out and handed over room keys. During this entire process, even though we were standing 3 feet from her, she did not make eye contact once, nor did she offer any additional information.
When she called the third person to the desk and once again ignored us, I blew up. I was stern. I was forceful. I was pissed. I asked for the manager on duty and was told there wasn’t one. I requested that she place a phone call and get a manager on the phone. She refused. I insisted that she take care of our check-in and resolve our problem before handling any others. She refused. I raised my voice. She raised hers. She told me my issue was “bullsh*t.” We left.
After a period of time had passed, another family member called back to speak to Tammy, in an attempt to get the check-in processed. Tammy was, once again, unable to listen, comprehend or offer any resolution. When she was informed that she had been not only incompetent but also rude by cursing at a customer, Tammy responded “bullsh*t isn’t a curse word.”
Dealing with Tammy was just an all around lousy experience. But when all was said and done I felt just a tiny bit sorry for her because, it appeared to me, she had been set up to fail:
- The hotel has 225 rooms with a constant stream of guests checking in/out. Yet Tammy was working alone at the busiest time with no assistance.
- Tammy had to move back and forth between two PC’s; one apparently held reservation information and the other was connected to the printer from which she ran receipts. Back and forth, back and forth – with a phone ringing off the hook between them.
- When Tammy wanted “proof” of our reservation/confirmation (which she looked at on our phone) we offered to email it to her/the hotel. She informed us “we don’t have an email address – I need it faxed.”
- Tammy lacked any sort of problem-solving ability nor, apparently, had anyone ever trained her on how to interact with customers. I bet she was hired, shadowed a co-worker for a couple of shifts, and was then tossed out at the desk to be the face of the organization.
Now I’m sure that just because the Schoolings will be taking their business elsewhere doesn’t mean this hotel is going to have to shutter the doors; they’ll probably do just fine and continue to bring in the business. And Tammy will, no doubt, continue to handle customers in exactly the same way.
Oh – and as a note – by the time Tammy decided she could process our reservation and check us in several hours later we had already booked another room at a neighboring hotel. The desk clerk named Megan was fantastic.
And that’s no bullsh*t.