The Big Picture
Posted By: Gary Woollacott, 7/16/2012
Recently I was meeting a friend for lunch at a five star hotel. He wanted to make sure he was in the right place and asked the receptionist to call me. The phone rang as I was approaching the reception area, I said “Don't worry, I’m right behind you. Hang up”.
We were about to leave when the receptionist asked for $1.75. “Don't worry”, I said, “we are eating here”. She insisted we pay, even though I argued about the cost of the call to them and that we planned to spend money. My friend told me to stop complaining; he would pay. I was annoyed, so when he paid (and got a receipt!) I said we could eat anywhere in the city but not at that hotel.
I was still steaming later so I called the expatriate General Manager, thinking that he could use it as a training opportunity. The $1.75 they had received led to them losing out on us spending around $100 on lunch, plus all my other visits in the normal course of a month or three – including a corporate visitor for two nights. Small stuff in the scheme of things, yes, but there's a principle involved.
The General Manager, whom I know well, was in a meeting when I called and his Personal Assitant took my message: a complaint and a training opportunity. He didn’t call back, and that was several months ago. I haven’t been there since then. And I’m telling everyone this story. I eventually called again and was told the message had been passed to the HR Director. She rang back a few days later, and they have also very kindly sent me a lunch voucher for two.
My point – and it’s taking a while to make – is that it’s important to train staff, to empower them to make decisions based on the overall benefit to you and your business. Don't train them to follow a procedures manual that ends up alienating your customers. This isn’t an easy thing to do, but if your business is to succeed then you have to.
Gary Woollacott is Managing Partner of Horton International Thailand and Vietnam.