Over the past month I have been on the road a lot. Somewhere along the way I lost a small container filled with my favorite cuff links. When I got home I realized I had lost them and I started the task of contacting the 14 hotels that I had stayed at during my time away to see if my beloved cuff links were sitting in a lost property box somewhere.
I rang them all, with pretty much the same response, "sorry, we haven't found them but leave us your name and number and we will call if we find them". Which of course means I will never hear from them, or so I thought.
Then a very strange thing happened. I received a package from one of the hotels and inside was a card and a set of cuff links. The message in the card said "Dear Mr Griffiths, we are very sorry that your cuff links weren't here. We know how much we all treasure our special possessions like that. Please find a small gift enclosed to help you start building your cuff link collection again. We know this set won't replace the ones you've lost, but we hope it makes you feel a little better. Kindest regards--Franzi, Guest Services Manager".
I was completely floored. Imagine that. Now this is a hotel I have stayed at many times over the past 25 years. There have certainly been times in there where I stopped staying with them because the service was terrible, or the food was terrible or some other issue. In the past few years I have been staying there more regularly and I have noticed so many positive changes but the biggest reason I stay there is one lady, Franzi the Guest Services Manager. And this recent example is just one of the many extraordinary steps she has taken to make me feel like a valued customer.
A couple of months back I had booked into the hotel and prepaid for a room for five nights on a special offer. After three nights I had to leave, my plans had changed. I didn't bother asking for a refund because I knew that I purchased a cheap rate and we all know that you simply lose your money if you leave early.
Imagine my surprise when I got an email from Franzi saying that they have refunded me two nights accommodation because I left early. They didn't have to, I didn't expect a refund but I was incredibly appreciative that they did.
So can one person really make or break a business? Absolutely. Now Franzi is part of a team, and I believe that exceptional service starts at the top of an organization and works its way down. I have certainly seen this happening at this particular hotel. That said, there are some people who thrive on providing amazing customer service, it's part of their DNA. They are one in a thousand and worth their weight in gold.
If I owned a hotel I would offer Franzi a huge paying job to do what she does so naturally. I think we all need to be on the lookout for that one person who really can make our business extraordinary and do whatever you can to get them to work for you.