I’ve just spent the last week with my family at an extended-stay establishment. We are in the midst of repairing our home as a result of water damage. This kind of thing happens all of the time, but it’s not a fun process. We’ve hobbled along with a microwave and a bathroom sink for about 5 weeks. (I can only compare it to camping in your own home without of the advantage of somores.)
Finally, we came to a point where had to clear out, board the dog and stay somewhere else. We were more than ready for a reprieve from the construction.
For obvious reasons I won’t mention the chain’s name. However, its parent company is one that has been an iconic brand for as long as I can remember. We were glad to be there — and likely should have taken advantage of our opportunity to relocate sooner. The staff was extremely accommodating, there were hot meals and it was oh, so quiet. No banging hammers or sanding going on.
Until we ventured out one afternoon and noticed a note on our vehicle, along with a sizable dent. Unfortunately — one of the hotel employees had mistakenly backed up into our vehicle. When the employee (who was very upset about what happened) later called to ask to settle without insurance being involved, I felt I should share what happened with the hotel’s General Manager. That was a monumental mistake.
I expected some sign of life — but instead “Crickets”.
As it turned out, she could not have given a damn. She had been alerted to the problem — and performed her corporate duty — informing us that she (and her brand) had no control over what happens in their parking lot.
She was professionally cold. She was dismissive. She was unmoved by the situation. She was quick to usher me out of her office.
Surprising, considering that her attitude was the polar opposite of the customer service creed the rest of the staff seemed to follow.
She was the anomaly. I get it. You don’t (or won’t or can’t) care. That was very clear.
The sad thing is she did have control over quite a lot — even if not over her parking lot. Yet she failed to make the most of it.
A few come to mind:
- She could have built upon the goodwill already initiated by her staff.
- She could have shown empathy and forged a long-term relationship.
- She could have explored why we were staying at her property and learned the story of her customers.
- She could have been a leader, ensuring that her customers were the priority — not corporate legalese.
After all was said and done, we stayed 3 more days at this establishment and didn’t hear a peep from her. Nary a note, or a kind word was extended.
So, all of the hard work of her staff (and they were wonderful), really won’t matter in the long run. Because we will never stay at one of their properties again. I did let corporate know — and she wrote a disingenuous note about how sorry she was for what had occurred and if there was anything she might do to call her. (Number given. Although she never even offered her card previously.)
Unfortunately, when leaders don’t care, customers don’t care either.
They walk away and never return.
That is a shame.
Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist, consultant and coach. She holds the role of Senior Consultant at Allied Talent.