This past week I stayed in 4 different lodgings. One was part of a major national chain, one was a privately owned lodge, and two were family owned and run motels. Just for perspective, all were located in or near the national parks along the Arizona/Utah border … far removed from any major metropolitan area. As a result I didn’t expect the same level of service or amenities. Overall I was pleasantly surprised.
Three places had excellent accommodations. Nice big comfortable rooms, clean and well furnished. One of the family run motels was a little dated but still very comfortable. You just had to ignore the creaking floorboards every time you crossed the room. All four places delivered good value. Three of the four deserved 4 to 5 stars out of a possible 5 (my rating for places in rural America, not Michelins).
The Lodge inside Monument Valley was excellent. Accommodations, food, service, etc. were first class. The people were welcoming and very helpful. This, despite the fact that it’s the only game in town, and could probably get away with offering less. Because of the location, people will come anyway. Prices were very fair.
The major chain hotel was also excellent. It, along with the two family run motels provided great rooms at reasonable prices. While one of the family run motels was a little dated, it still deserved 4 stars.
The other family run motel was an entirely different story. I would have to struggle to give it a single star. It had been recently updated and the room was very nice. It even had an indoor pool. Breakfast was good and most of the staff seemed very friendly. Why then the lousy review? Simple, it was because of the greeting. There was nobody in the lobby when we arrived. After a few minutes a woman came bustling out from the back. She barked in a very unfriendly tone, “Can I help you?” When I told her my name and that I had a reservation, she again barked, “Credit card?” There were no words of welcome, no real greeting. Maybe it shouldn’t have rubbed me the wrong way, but I had just driven all day and I was tired and hungry. I had read the hype about how this family motel’s priority was making their guests welcome. Apparently Broom Hilda hadn’t read it.
In less than two minutes this woman annihilated my impression of the motel. To add insult to injury, they had little cards all over the place asking me “to share my experience with the world.” I don’t trash small business on Trip Advisor or elsewhere. It’s tough enough for them to compete in today’s market. But, neither will I ever stay there again.
Lesson learned: First impressions are very important and often can’t be undone. I had just finished reading the book Fabled Service by Betsy Sanders, a former executive at Nordstrom. In chapter three she lists the main reasons why companies lose customers:
- 1% Died
- 3% Moved away
- 5% Influenced by friends
- 9% Lured away by the competition
- 14% Dissatisfied by the product
- 68% Turned away by an attitude of indifference on the part of a company employee.
That’s right. A whopping 68% of customers are lost because of the attitude of employees! People can be forgiving, and understanding of most things … except rude or indifferent service.
Without our customers or clients we don’t have a business. Doesn’t matter how good our product is, if people don’t feel appreciated they will go elsewhere. Whether you’re in sales or sales management, or customer service, you need to remember that. People don’t care if you’re tired or have a migraine. They don’t care if you’re having a bad day. If you can’t be the best that you can be with your customers, find another way to make a living.
Oliver Connolly coaches and mentors sales managers and sales professionals. For more information please go to http://www.clevelstrategic.com