Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The 3 to 1 Service Rule: Good to Bad Service

Recently I was at a hotel, and I ran into a bit of trouble. There was some sort of electrical problem with the fire alarm, and it would constantly emit a soft chirp along with a popping sound. It wasn’t loud and you could hardly notice it when the TV was on but in the presence of relative silence the chirping kept me from sleeping.

I tried to cope with the sounds for a while but I couldn’t manage; I called the front desk. They sent up an electrical technician who recognized the problem immediately, and offered me a new room. Upon inspection the new room I found that it too had the chirp problem so I went down to the lobby to see what could be done about the situation.

The man at the front desk tried to tell me that all of the rooms had the chirp, and that he was not keen to give me another room as I was likely to disapprove of any of the other rooms that he might put me in. Aided with the information from the friendly electrical technician; I countered that his statement was not true. At this point he had no choice but to relocate me to a new, chirpless room. The reluctant front desk worker also offered to send up a breakfast coupon (which he didn’t send), and I was on my way.

After reflecting on this incident I found myself recalling the rude front desk person more than anyone else that I interacted with at the hotel. There were plenty of other people that did not share his attitude, but they didn’t stick out in my mind. The friendly electrical technician who checked out my problem, the resident employee who checked on me later and even the friendly waitress in the hotel restaurant; they all faded to the background even though they had provided excellent service.

I had fallen into a trap that can be easy to fall into for business travelers; to ignore good service but harshly criticize poor service. The funny thing is that the good service makes the poor service all the more noticeable. Had the overall level of service been lower the man at the front desk would have probably just blended in with the crowd.

By my rough estimates I figure that for every one rude service person I run into there at about three really good ones that should offset easily offset the rudeness. I guess it's easier to see what's going wrong as opposed to what's going right.

And what about that one guy that provided the bad service? He could have been having a rough day that was full of customers that had given him a hard time. Similarly he didn’t know what my day had been like. We all need to remember that everyone is human even though it can be easy to forget that sometimes after a day of travel.

Are there any service people that have really stuck out to you lately? Good or bad, let’s hear it.

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