Photo Credits: garybembridge
The true character of organizations is often revealed by how well do they respond to customer feedback. Doing the right thing for the customer has always been good business sense, but never more important than today, when blogs and social media have given consumers the power to share their experiences with millions of people.
Last month I traveled to Dubai and stayed at Le Meridien hotel. Overall, my stay was pleasant and uneventful, but somehow I couldn’t get over the high cost of the daily Internet connection charge (US$20). For somebody like me who can’t fathom spending a day without being connected to the web, having to pay for Internet access is like having to pay for air to breath.
Upon my return to the States, the hotel sent me an email survey, asking me to rate the different aspects of my visit. I gave the hotel a good review, however I expressed my discomfort with the Internet charge telling them that, in my opinion, a hotel that caters to business travelers should recognize that Internet access is not a luxury but a necessity, and therefore should be offered at no extra charge.
A couple of days later, I received this email from the hotel’s Quality Director:
Dear Mr. Sanchez,
We would like to thank you for filling out the Guest Questionnaire sent on behalf of our parent company, Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide.
We were indeed delighted to note that you have enjoyed all the services and facilities, which you have experienced throughout your stay and are grateful for the positive comments you have expressed in your customer evaluation, especially concerning our reception staff.
Concerning your comments with regards to our internet charges, we have credited your American Express Card no. XXXXXXXXXXXXXX the amount of AED 140 for the two usage of internet on February 11 & 15.
We would certainly look forward to the pleasure of welcoming you back to Le Méridien Dubai in the not too distant future. In the meantime, if you require any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us either via my email address (email address here) or direct fax (fax no. here) and we would be more than happy to be at your service.
Now, THAT is a good response. And it is good, in my opinion, for several reasons:
- The survey was taken seriously and not just as a routine task or, as many companies do, as easy and free marketing research.
- It shows that the company values long term relationship with customers more than the short term profit that can be extracted by nickel and diming them.
- The response is an actual email message from an actual human being, and not an automated, prefabricated response.
- Instead of offering a token concession, like a free drink or a small discount on my next visit, they directly addressed my concern by eliminating the Internet access charges altogether.
Think about these four takeaways and how you can adapt them and apply them in your small business.
Attention and trust are the most valuable commodities of the new economy. Every time a customer gives you attention (by buying a product, filling a survey, etc.) you have the opportunity to respond to it in a way that generates loyalty and trust. And trust, more than product features or price, is what ultimately will separate the great companies from all the rest.