“WOW” customer service moments

A few weeks ago I stayed at the InterContinental San Francisco, which I’ve often raved about as being one of my favorite hotels in the world, if for no other reason than the incredible employees that work the club lounge. Shehani, Gina, and Luis are three of the best employees working in the hotel industry, period.

A few examples from my last stay:

  • The breakfast spread in the club lounge is quite good (especially by US standards). I got there late one morning, about 15 minutes before breakfast was supposed to end. I really love the almond croissants they have in the club lounge, and asked Gina, one of the attendants, whether they had any left. They didn’t, which is to be expected when you arrive that late. But addressing me by name and sincerely apologizing wasn’t enough for Gina. She immediately phoned the hotel restaurant to see if they had any left. About five minutes later I was presented with a plate of almond croissants, which Gina invited me to take back to my room if I’d like.
  • I love observing interactions between people. The club lounge employees are great at small talk, and one evening one of the ladies working the lounge started talking to an older couple that explained they were going to Napa Valley two days later. After giving them some general ideas for what to do, she asked if they’d be back the following night in the club lounge. They indicated they would be, and she offered to make a detailed itinerary for them after quizzing them on their preferences. Not surprisingly, I observed the following evening as she presented them with several ideas including printouts.
  • During my stay I had observed this British couple that spent more time in the club lounge than I did (and I was merely there to work!). I couldn’t help but chuckle during the last day of their stay, as they explained to Luis (the “server”), “Luis, when we get back to London, we’re not going to tell our friends about all that we saw in San Francisco. But we’re going to tell them about Luis and Gina, and how amazing they were. You’re what we’re going to remember most from our trip.”
  • Check out this story about the InterContinental San Francisco by a FlyerTalker that wasn’t even staying at the hotel!

I’m certainly not on the payroll of the InterContinental San Francisco, but merely a customer that consistently has excellent experiences here.

But here’s the moral of the story: the last day of my stay I couldn’t help but ask Gina — as cheesy as it might sound — “why the hell are you guys so friendly?” After pondering it over for a moment, she responded with “well, I guess it all starts at the top. Our GM treats us well, cares about us, and even writes us cards for our birthday, so I guess it all trickles down from there.”

Now that’s a lesson I think one or two travel industry leaders could learn from. Interact with your employees, show some appreciation, and heck, even throw in a Starbucks gift card every now and then, and they might just go the extra mile to take care of your customers.

Comments

  1. Your last paragraph is spot-on. Management sets the tone and it filters down from there. This applies to any enterprise, not just travel. It is okay to be tough and establish high expectations, but be fair and CARE about your people.

  2. I’ve had the pleasure of being in the SF club lounge and was soo impressed with the service from Luis, I actually wrote to the GM of the hotel. It’s staff like this that make the difference, at the end of the day breakfast and free food can only do so much. It’s the people that make the difference. Nice post.

  3. That manager has the exact same management style as Glenn Tilton….. NOT! He could learn a few things from these folks

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