Help or hell?
Customers call for one reason they want help. Most of the time what they get is one letter short.
A few years ago I found myself in Muncie, Indiana traveling to Indianapolis that night, and in need of a hotel room. And, I wanted to eat dinner at St. Elmo’s Steak House. I ate there the year before and could still taste the (world’s best) shrimp cocktail and a perfect steak. And was going to request Bill one of the world’s finest waiters.
My dilemma was: do I stay at a downtown hotel (near St. Elmo’s), or at an airport hotel, because I have a 6:30am plane to catch. I decided airport and cab back and forth. I called the Adams Mark (the closest place to the airport), got an operator, and said, “I’d like to make a reservation for tonight.”
The operator said, “One moment please.” And transferred me to what I thought was their reservation department. “Adams Mark reservations may I help you?” she started.
I repeated, “I’d like to make a reservation for tonight.”
“For which city?” she says.
Crap, they transferred me to one of those central reservation places. I hate those places. Why couldn’t they have taken my reservation at the hotel? Why did they have to send my call 1,000 miles away? I hung up.
Maybe the downtown hotel would be a better idea. I called the Omni Hotel.
“Omni Hotel how may I direct your call?” the operator chirps.
“I’d like to make a reservation for tonight,” I said.
“Reservations is closed, please call back after 9am.” She states firmly.
“In other words, no one wants my money?” I questioned innocently.
“Reservations is closed, sir.” (for those of you who may not be familiar with American jargon and euphemisms, SIR is an acronym that actually meansstick it in your rear.
I asked for the front desk. Surely they will take my money if I talk real nice.
“Front desk, may I help you?”
“I’d like to make a reservation for tonight.”
“I can’t help you, We don’t take reservations.”
“What do you do? Isn’t the idea to sell rooms?”
“Sir, I don’t make the rules, I just follow them.”
Now I ask for the hotel manager. “This is Heidi how can help you?” she said in a matteroffact way.” Professional but not friendly. “I’d like to make a reservation for tonight.” I begged.
“Sir, I can make you a reservation, but we are almost fully booked and the only rate I can give you is $159.00.” She stated. (In other words, we have cheaper rates but not for you, buddy) “I’ll only be there for 10 hours,” I pleaded. “Sir, we are almost sold out and that’s the best rate I can give you.”
I reject her “offer,” and called back the Adam’s Mark. This time I ask for the front desk. “I’d like to make a reservation for tonight.” She starts to transfer me to Buffalo and reservation central again, but I’m wise to her tricks and I ask for the manager on duty. I get Crystal. Friendly, helpful Crystal. She takes my reservation on a piece of paper, calls it in to reservation central herself, and calls me back three minutes later with a confirmation number. Couldn’t any one of the other people done the same thing?
I tell Crystal I may arrive late because I’m eating at St Elmo’s first she says, “Be sure to get the shrimp cocktail.” I smiled and reassured her it was on my mind.
NOTE: My Adams Mark rate was $89.00 for the room. Almost half the rate at the Omni. Now I can eat and sleep for the same money I would have spent just to sleep, and have money left for a cab ride, and a big tip for someone nice (if there is such a person).
I hop in the cab and announce, “St Elmo’s Steak House please.” “Be sure to order the shrimp cocktail” he says as we start out.
My St. Elmo’s experience was superb. Service as great as the food. And of course, a shrimp cocktail that everyone in creation seems to know about and rave about.
Here are the lessons and pointed questions attached to the above story as relates to YOUR business and YOUR customers:
- Who is empowered to take an order?How easy is it to do business with you?
- Suppose the customer wants it and you are unavailable?What happened to that order?Suppose your competition WAS available?
- Just because you’re closed, doesn’t mean your customer has no needs.How many of your customers are open when you are closed or unavailable?What happens if a customer calls you when you are closed and want to place an order?
- Start with friendly engagement not professional engagement.How do you want to be served, professional or friendly? Let me ask it a different way. Do you want to hang around someone professional or friendly? Easier answer.
- Max Gitomer’s first rule of business he taught me, “Son, first take their order and their money.”Is that what you do?
- Upper management(whom I define as “people with as little customer contact as they possibly get away with and zero sense of reality”) are the pinheads that make rules to drive customers to competitors.Are you making corporate accommodations, or customer accommodations?
- When you have the best quality, people talk about it.When your quality exceeds everyone else, you develop a reputation and no one talks about the price.What are you known for?
I am most amazed at the companies who spend millions on advertising and marketing to attract the customer, and their people won’t take “yes” for an answer when a prospect arrives ready to buy.
Want the three secret words of positive engagement when a complaining customer calls?” I’ll throw in three success strategies for hiring a winning team. Just go towww.gitomer.com, register if you’re first time user and enter the secret words, SECRET WORDS in the GitBit box.