Monday, July 28, 2008
King Morpheus/Wikimedia Commons
All service companies focus on customer service. The customer is king. Bla bla bla. Unfortunately, all too often, the reality, particularly for big organisations, is patchy service, with the oversights and affronts undoing the good work. In fact it's so rare that I'm genuinely impressed by service that I'm compelled to thank the purveyor of this fine experience.
Last month, I stayed at the Brussels Marriott and it was brilliant! I used to live in Brussels and, while there are many things to recommend the city - such as the fantastic restaurants and bars and the art deco architecture - I would never have described it as the city of smiles. The French-speaking Walloons and the Flemish are still learning to love each other, while a thinly veiled Ixellois snobbery adds a dash of class conflict. Not so in the Marriott! It was a microcosm of the ideal of the United Nations. Peace, harmony and goodwill to all guests.
The concierge tracked down our favourite restaurants, despite my mis-spelling Le Zoute Zoen (a gorgeous restaurant in Antwerp - it means 'the sweet kiss', or so said the taxi driver). The concierge then left a phone message and dropped a note under our door, offering to make the bookings.
The breakfast chef's booming laugh was infectious. He had all the kitchen staff going, but didn't fail to show guests, even the stragglers, courtesy and attention, cooking up fresh food just for us.
The room was impeccably clean (sure, the Marriott is 5 star, but so is a certain hotel in Melbourne, which once treated me to a dirty toilet seat on arrival - the perfunctory apology and offer to clean the room rang a bit hollow).
All in all, it felt like everyone took pride in their work. They enjoyed being there. They enjoyed the guests' being there. (Sounds like a no-brainer, but I've known airlines where you feel like you're an inconvenience.)
Customer Service isn't a department. It has got to be practiced by everyone. And I don't think good customer service comes from a dictate from management. It comes from enjoyment.