Customer expectations

Ability to exceed customer expectations is wasted if it can’t be delivered consistently throughout the organization.

Why should your customers accept anything less?

Quality service is an aspect of business integral to any corporation, and that’s because we all share a common trait: every one of us has needs, wants, and emotions.

It was May of 2008, and I had checked in a hotel that had just opened in an island town in a country far, far away. Rumour was that it had nicely designed modern rooms and the hotel had given a special promotional price to our group.

The hotel name had only letter of the alphabet in it, simple and easy to remember, I guess. We were welcomed at the entrance, and the reception was really good indeed.

But what followed is what was truly memorable.

Day 1:

Checked in late at night due to the flight delay.

First, the safe deposit box wasn’t working. Housekeeping came and replaced the battery.
Then I found out the internet was not working. So another guy came and fixed the cables.

Prior to discovering the incapacitated internet, I had ordered room service. I told the guy I don’t eat any meat except seafood.

Ordered crab meat egg rolls. Confirmed there is no other meat besides the crab.

20 minutes later, got a call “Sir, there is chicken in your Egg Rolls.”

“OK then, cancel that order and let us choose another item.”

“But Sir, we are half way through making it.”

“No, I don’t eat chicken so please cancel my order.”

“Sir, talk to my manager.”  Music…

“Yes, I am the manager of the café. Our egg rolls have chicken.”

“But I ordered ones with crab meat. I don’t eat chicken.”

“But we have already finished making them. Will send to your room soon.”

You don’t want to hear what happened next.
Every word in my mother tongue that I was not supposed to speak (per my mother’s teachings) had returned.

The front desk staff called and said sorry many, many times – including one guy bowing to me over and over.

They were very well trained in saying “sorry” (but seemed not trained in prevention).

Day 2:

Got to the room at 8 PM. Turned on TV.  It did not work.

Assistance arrived: changed the battery in the remote control and did something on the back of the TV.

Then I find that there was no clock. It was delivered promptly per my request. Time was 1:31PM. I tried very hard to figure out how to change time. IMPOSSIBLE.
For the first time in my life, the wisdom light blinked. “No human being has been able to change the time. Time flies.”

Assistance came, again. They couldn’t figure it out. Took the clock downstairs for repair.                                                                                                                       Many calls from the front desk inquiring if I am satisfied with the service.
“But I have not received the clock back” is my response every time.

“OK sir, he will be right there.”

Finally, the clock arrived and it had the correct time.
I had to sign forms though: “I have received the clock and promise to return it upon departure.”

A few minutes later, the room bell rang again ‘Sir, you signed in the wrong place.” Corrected.

Finally, I can sleep. 9:10 PM… Call from downstairs “Sir, are you satisfied?”


Tucked in the bed again. The doorbell rang. I am not going to open the door any more was my resolve. After four tries, the person seemed to have given up. I fell asleep. At 10:10 PM the bell rang. I was still determined not to open my door. That person seemed to have given up.

At 10:30 PM, the bell rang again… I got up and screamed as loud as I could, looking for a baseball bat (I wasn’t in America, so couldn’t find one) and rushed to the door. Two guys were running away (guess it must have been my scream). I called them back.

Shivering, one guy returned and tried to hand me lotion and a special adapter plug.

“I did not ask for it.”

“But sir, reception said that you wanted it.” (I guess some one else must have requested).

“Sorry sir for disturbing your sleep. Good night.”

Tucked myself in the bed again… The phone rang! (Must be the reception following up to see if I am satisfied.) I picked up the receiver and screamed (before hearing the voice on the other side). “Yes, I am very satisfied. Let me sleep now.”

As my fate would have it, it was my wife on the other side – “Who are you satisfied with? What is going on?”

This was rest of my note in my daily event book: “I hope she bought my lengthy explanation. Will find out upon returning home if the front door lock is changed but for now I am having nightmares about returning home.

My only salvation/hope is in our daughter Analisa’s saying “Everything is OK in the end. If it is not OK then it is not the end.”

People don’t just buy things – they buy expectations about performance and service.

I have blind faith in the policy that Quality, tempered with good judgment and showmanship, will win against all odds.” – Walt Disney, speaking to Studio Staff, February 10, 1941

Pathfinders are assisting companies for consistency in delivery of quality services. Please join us if your organization is striving to achieve consistency.

Suresh Shah, M.D., Pathfinders Enterprise

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