I just returned from a week-long vacation to Riviera Maya, Mexico. 

I urge everyone to take a vacation at least once a year to recharge your batteries. Let’s face it…we all put in several days a year into our business that when we do get time to unwind and relax that we want to be taken care of. Get some sun, good food; maybe be entertained and definitely taken care of. My wife and I paid $3000 for our 7 night all-inclusive Mexico vacation in an upscale resort with gourmet food, oceanfront Jacuzzi junior suite…we were both looking forward to this time away.

We arrive and are greeted with champagne, our bags were immediately taken care of by the porters and we were whisked to our room on the back of a golf cart and given a tour of the property. Our first meal was great that evening with a nice gourmet meal near the ocean’s edge over an outside thatched roof. Concierge huts were outside every other building on the property, staffed with managers to attend to your every need.

In short, this property knew how to cater to their clientele.

I head to the lobby on Thursday night after already having a slight issue on Tuesday night with the front desk and their handling of a transaction. Here’s how the conversation went.

Me: “Hi!  I’d like to get a 10-minute internet card.”
Front Desk Clerk: “No sir, we don’t have 10-minute internet cards anymore”
Me: “I just bought a 10-minute internet card yesterday for $3.50…what happened between yesterday and today?”
Front Desk Clerk: “Sorry but we only sold 30 minutes and 1-hour cards.”
Me: “I’d like to speak to a manager please.”
Front Desk Clerk: “Well you didn’t let me finish sir…The price of our 30-minute internet card is the same as our former 20-minute card.”

OK OK….you’re saying…how does this apply to me? Here’s the meat. How do you phrase your responses/conversations/emails to your client? How do you handle those requests that come in from guests? Do you start in the positive or negative? Think about what could have been the outcome of this scenario.

Me: “I’d like a 10-minute internet card”
Front Desk Clerk: “Yes sir, I’d be happy to do that for you and even go one better. “  We no longer carry the 10-minute internet cards because we realize guests like you wanted more value for their money in our internet café so our minimum purchase is now the 30-minute internet card for the same price as our former 20-minute card and now you get 10 free minutes!”
Me: “GREAT! Thank you for saving me money and giving me more time!”

What if this property, which excelled in every other aspect of customer service, had a proper training program for their front desk employees, the “front line” in dealing with their customers? Do you think they would be better prepared if they did? How much more money could they make and retain with quality referrals from ecstatic customers who are overjoyed about their stay? What’s your ongoing training program for customer service? How do you improve your customer service skills? Of course, I’m not speaking directly to you….more of a “collective” you. (wink).

How much difference can you make in your communication skills? I’d strongly recommend picking up a copy of Jeffrey Gitomer’s book “Customer Satisfaction Is Worthless…Customer Loyalty is Priceless

By simply responding in the negative to my request at the front desk, this employee has now cost her boss thousands in referral money in less than three minutes and worse yet negative Word of Mouth advertising, the most powerful advertising there is that will last a lifetime. What are you doing to ensure this doesn’t happen to you?

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