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Satisfaction Guaranteed

05 Mar

When I buzzed the intercom to be let into the hotel garage early Sunday morning, I was met with

“Oh, Thank GOD you’re here.”

I didn’t dare ask why at that point.  I like to relax in the garage for a little while with my breakfast and blogs before clocking in.

But his words hung in the air making it impossible to relax.  It had been a tough night for him, and I needed to know why in order to be prepared for my shift.

I downed my food, published a few quick comments, and headed up.  As soon as I heard what happened, my first thought was to bail.  I had barely recovered from the madhouse on Saturday, and already I was facing another one.

“The fire alarms went off at 2am,”  the night auditor told me.  “Then soon after the guests went back upstairs, the alarm sounded again.  People were mad!”

Whoo boy, I thought.  We had sold all but 2 of our 355 rooms.  Quite a few people had been awoken from a deep sleep and forced to evacuate. We would likely hear from most, if not all of them.  This was gonna be a delicate check-out process.  We needed to be sympathetic, apologetic, and ready to compensate.  I explained to my two trainees how they should handle the guests, what they should tell them regarding the alarm, and what NOT to tell them.

Then we spent the next 5 hours fielding complaints, apologizing for the inconvenience, offering a free night certificate to stay at any of our locations, or comping their night completely.  Only a few were mad enough to want to speak with the General Manager.  In between my own line of guests, I helped my trainees, took care of non-fire related guest requests, and managed to keep my cool.

But dang.  It was exhausting!

When it was all said and done, and I handed the GM the thick stack of papers indicating how many comp certificates she needed to send out, she thanked me sincerely.  “It was rough out there this morning.  I thank you for your leadership.  You did great.”

I accepted her compliment graciously.  They’re usually far and few between.

And I realized I still love my job – even on the toughest days.  I am meant to help people, and make them happy.  And I love being a teacher and role model to the other employees.  It’s a great fit for me.  This month brings my 2 year anniversary with this particular hotel, and 3 1/2 years of working in the hotel industry.  And I can see continuing on this path for a while.  Every day brings something new and something rewarding.

Now to figure out how to get more pay for it…..

 

 

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17 Comments

Posted by on March 5, 2013 in The Hotel

 

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17 responses to “Satisfaction Guaranteed

  1. agg79

    March 5, 2013 at 10:55 am

    I feel your pain. Every morning I am up at the crack of early checking the forecast, the news, blogs, and e-mails for both home and work. Especially work. I like to get an idea of what kind of day I am going to have by checking for any flaming e-mails or problems at the office so I know whether or not I need to start drinking early. I do not envy your task, I have seen too many irate guests that are chewing out the service desk early in the morning over some trivial inconvenience, much less handling a entire hotel full of tired, angry people. Sounds like you handled it very professionally with a touch of class and style and lots of patience. Your bosses should appreciate your efforts. That kind of dedication and loyalty is hard to find. Congrats on making it two years.

    Dare I ask if they have made up their minds on the supervisor position?

     
    • shadowrun300

      March 5, 2013 at 2:45 pm

      I’m happy to say the guests weren’t TOO irate. The few that wanted to talk to the GM were upset because they had a difficult time following the evacuation route. Most understood it wasn’t our fault, and most agreed they were glad the alarms were working properly. BUT they were still inconvenienced and it put a damper on their stay with us, and so we compensated them with a free night. Once word got around, EVERYONE came up for their certificate. I felt bad because they looked so tired. And one family had a daughter on crutches trying to come down 4 flights of stairs. And other families had scared kids, etc.
      Not everyone experienced the alarm though… I started work at 6 am and quite a few people were just coming back from a night out. They had no clue what they missed out on! 🙂
      No word on the supervisor position. They’re supposed to be making their decision this month. I’ve learned not to get my hopes up or even trust that it will happen. If I haven’t heard any news by mid-March, I may bring it up again. I’m okay fighting for our guests and making sure they get what they deserve, but I have a difficult time fighting for myself. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

       
  2. Rock Chef

    March 5, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    I am always amazed that people can keep cool when dealing with stuff like that. I must admit that it does bother me that so many would have complained about this. I feel like a bit of and oddball thinking that hey, stuff happens, can’t see myself getting too hot under the collar about it. At least it proves you have got fire alarms!

    And I second Agg’s tentative question…

     
    • shadowrun300

      March 5, 2013 at 2:59 pm

      I love the challenge of keeping cool in a crazy situation. Even though it’s exhausting.
      I would think most people would be upset if the alarms DIDN’T work. Sure it’s a pain in the butt, but wouldn’t they rather be safe than sorry?
      Many of them complained about not being able to reach someone at the front desk. We usually staff only 1 or 2 people in the whole hotel overnight. They’re dealing with firemen and the guests that have made it down, or they are on the phone with another guest. What do they want? If you’re not sure if you should come down, THEN COME DOWN!
      sorry.
      I never like it when the alarms go off while I’m there – but I do know that I handle the situation more professionally than our night auditors do. To tell the guests it was a false alarm after they’ve drug their kids down the stairs in the middle of the night is a BIG NO-NO. The alarms go off because the smoke detector detected something. That something turned out to be a non-emergency. But it wasn’t a FALSE alarm. I wonder if the guests would have been less upset if things had been handled differently during the evacuation.
      Keep your fingers crossed about the supervisor position. They NEED me. 🙂

       
  3. Abby

    March 5, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    Well there’s a Good Morning for ya!

    I’m with RC. If I’m in a hotel and an alarm goes off, I just chalk it up to stuff happening that I can’t control. Why complain? Better safe than sorry. But maybe that’s from my years at the desk too. I recently read an article about how hotel front desks will soon be a thing of the past. Guest reps will mainly be “roamers” to get guests checked in, etc.. Hard to imagine, but the article made some good points.

    I’m sure you handled it all with poise! Was this the compulsive lying auditor? You’d think he could make up something better than “false alarm”!

     
    • shadowrun300

      March 5, 2013 at 4:06 pm

      Yes! It was the compulsive liar! He totally should have come up with a better story! lol
      I think my years of being at the desk make me a better guest too.
      As far as the roaming reps – I’ve heard of that. They don’t just check them in, they do it all, right? I think I’d like that job. Do you happen to remember where you saw that article?

       
      • Abby

        March 6, 2013 at 12:58 am

        It might have been this one:
        http://www.economist.com/blogs/gulliver/2011/06/hotels-future

        But seems to me the one I originally read mentioned kiosks and other things too. Anyway, I could see it happening, but I’m kinda thinking there would still be some sort of “desk”, for the reasons mentioned in the last two paragraphs of the article.

         
      • shadowrun300

        March 6, 2013 at 1:32 am

        Thanks for the link! I wouldn’t be too opposed to changing up the check-in process, but I do agree that there will still be a need for a desk or fixed area where guests know they can go. Interesting concept!
        I can see business travelers being happy with a kiosk. But even they still like the help of the “front desk agents”. People traveling for pleasure tend to like the personal treatment they get when checking in. (At least at our hotel. 🙂 )

         
  4. White Elephant

    March 5, 2013 at 4:24 pm

    What a thing to face as soon as you get to work. Your confidence in dealing with the guests I am sure helped to reduce their annoyance at being woken in the night. A great deal of anger is probably born out of fear of what might have been, especially for the guests with children. It sounds as though you know what they need to hear to placate them. You are a true professional and I hope your hotel realises what an asset you are.

     
    • shadowrun300

      March 5, 2013 at 5:01 pm

      Aww! Thank you for saying so! I think my greatest strength is being able to sympathize with the guests and show empathy. Usually they just want to be heard. With our hotel chain in particular, we are truly 100% satisfaction guaranteed. And even if this wasn’t our fault, we were willing to give money back or let them stay free in the future. It’s what I love most about our chain, and why I’m proud of the company. Too many hotels are money hungry and don’t really care for the guests. Working here allows me to take care of them, and by taking care of them, they are willing to return and bring their friends.
      So I HOPE they recognize that I really am an asset for them. I’d hate to leave, but I won’t be strung along either. As much as they do right by their guests – they don’t always do right by their employees.

       
  5. territerri

    March 6, 2013 at 12:08 am

    It takes a real leader to get through a situation like that AND earn praise for it in the end. You seem to understand customer service at its core. People just want someone to listen, relate and maybe sympathize a bit. Sounds like you handled it with grace and your GM’s compliments were well deserved.

     
    • shadowrun300

      March 6, 2013 at 1:40 am

      As hard as it was, I really did enjoy the challenge of it all. I love customer service, and I really love the challenge of turning someone’s day around, or “saving” a guest. Loving my job is not always enough, though. I need the respect of upper management – and I feel like I’ve been earning more and more of it as time goes on. It’s a great feeling, and makes me want to keep driving ALL that way to go to work!

       
  6. The Thin Lady Inside

    March 6, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    It’s awesome that you love your job! You do great! 🙂 I loved your last comment of “Now to figure out how to get paid more for it!” LOL! I find it interesting how the people that don’t love their jobs sometimes seem to get more pay, it’s like their bosses are afraid “they’ll quit” or they feel like they’re doing some sort of favor… and those who love their jobs, many times is like their bosses take advantage of that… not all cases though… I just speak for what’s happened to me! :S … thankfully I have the best job and the best pay… although sometimes I complain and feel like quitting… then one of my girls says: “you’re the best mommy in the world” and I feel it’s all worth it! SNORT 🙂

     
    • shadowrun300

      March 6, 2013 at 10:59 pm

      Wouldn’t it be nice to love your job AND get paid well. I’ve never been one to work for money only, though. After all, I was a teacher, a stay-at-home mom, and now a hotel hourly employee. To me, it’s better to like what you do, than earn a bunch of money. But it sure would be nice to have a few more bucks in my pocket.
      So you get the occasional compliments from your “bosses” too! They may be few and far between, but when you receive them, it’s such a great feeling, isn’t it? 🙂

       
  7. meleah rebeccah

    March 7, 2013 at 7:50 pm

    Oy vey! That had to be a nightmare, fielding all of those complaints. I am very happy your GM expressed gratitude for your hard work.

     
    • shadowrun300

      March 7, 2013 at 10:43 pm

      We rarely have complaints at our hotel, ’cause we’re awesome. 🙂 So luckily I don’t have to deal with this every day. Nightmare was the right word – but hopefully the guests all left satisfied and will give us another try.

       
  8. towardshealthylife

    March 11, 2013 at 8:48 pm

    You certainly have a gift with client service! I cannot imagine being in your place, I would have panicked and run lol

     

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