Do your staff head off customer upsets?

I’d stayed at the Bejaya Time Square Hotel on my last visit to Kuala Lumpur a few months ago. It’s a nice business hotel attached to a very large mall. My previous room was a junior suite with a small kitchen area and living room, and Internet access via a DSL cable. I assumed I’d have a similar room this time.

My room was a tad smaller and not as well laid out. I immediately booted my computer and saw no wireless signal. I tried plugging in my travel Ethernet cable, but it didn’t fit in the wall slot. As he helped me with my bags, I asked the bellman if there was a DSL cable in the room. He said he’d be right back with one. I unpacked and got ready for an appointment with a business friend. The bellman didn’t return.

Twenty minutes later, I called the front desk and was told they would send a cable right up. I said I was leaving in a few minutes, so just leave it in the room.

Ninety minutes later, I returned from my appointment to discover there was no cable awaiting. I called the front desk again. “We’ll send one right up.” Fifteen minutes later, no cable. I called again. “We’ll bring one right up.” I said, “This is the fourth time I’ve heard that and no one has arrived.” As you guessed, twenty minutes passed and no cable.

I called again. I got a new person who said, “There is no Internet access from your room.” “What???? Why didn’t anyone tell me this before?” No clear reason, just “I’m sorry.” When I said I must have access, as I was staying for five days, I was told I’d have to change rooms.” I was already settled in and unpacked. What a pain!

I was livid. I went down to the front desk and asked to see the Manager on Duty (MOD). She saw a new key with my name on it. As I tried to explain the situation, she busily looked up my folio on the computer without looking at me. She said they would move me into a nicer room with Internet access and she’d waive the Internet fee.” I was unhappy that 4 people told me they’d have a solution to my situation, and none of them delivered nor told me their solution wouldn’t work. I’d waited 2.5 hours to be told the truth. Now I was having to move rooms, and I was exhausted from my long travel day.

When I asked the MOD why the front desk clerk hadn’t informed me there was no Internet access in my room, she said, “Did you ask?” She was trying to blame this on me. I said, “I have stayed here before and there was no problem. This is a business hotel. Internet is a given. Should I have also had to ask if the room had a bed?”

She gave me my key. I packed and moved to the new room, and the Internet worked fine.

How could four people tell me they would solve my problem, then not only not deliver, but not know that their solution would not be an answer? Did they not know which rooms in the hotel had Internet access and which didn’t? Wouldn’t that have been an important piece of information to have before promising a solution that wouldn’t work? They could have easily looked this up and called me back if they discovered my room was not enabled.

And then why would the MOD try to put the onus of the problem back on the customer, when the problem was one of a lack of a common room component?

This could have been easily avoided if the front desk clerk had been thinking. He noted that I was at the hotel for a business conference. Don’t 98% of business guests, especially those from abroad, need Internet access? If so, shouldn’t that be a standard question at check in, “Will you need Internet access?” If the response is, “I didn’t bring a computer,” then the clerk could say, “We have a business center if you find you need access.” Or if the guest says, “Yes, I have my laptop,” the clerk would then know to assign an Internet-enabled room.

What are your staff doing to head off upsets by thinking beyond rote transactions?

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