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Customer Service Part 2: Good, Better, Mind-Blowing

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A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my mind-blowing customer service experience at the Cosmopolitan hotel in Las Vegas. To this day I remain fascinated by this story and the kind of companies that encourage, employ, and empower good customer service strategies.

Every day, each of us is touched by customer service people--and perhaps this is never truer than when we are traveling. When we travel, we become reliant upon others and interact most with people who are helping us along our journey. I'd like to add two more customer service examples to the "Being Aware" story that I wrote about in my previous post.

I recently had dinner at a local Salt Lake City restaurant called Tuscany. It is one of our go-to places for entertaining out of town guests. The food is good and the service is generally excellent. One of my co-workers, Andrew, ordered a bottle of wine from the server, Nicole Bailey. She brought it and Andrew, detailed fellow that he is, pointed out that the menu had said the wine was a 2010 vintage and the label on the bottle read: 2011. Those of us at the table, all a bit less observant, teased Andrew about being so fussy about the year.

I imagine that, from our interactions with each other, Nicole understood that our group consisted of people who are constantly ribbing each other. That happens to be true. Later in the meal, our out-of-town guest ordered a Sprite and Nicole countered by saying that she "only had a 2009 vintage", which made us all chuckle. Throughout the rest of the meal, we continued teasing both the Nicole and Andrew. (As a side note, Andrew has since continually been ribbed about this incident.) Nicole's ability to get to know us quickly and understand our style, then join in our bantering, made our meal more enjoyable. I would imagine she might not have had that same interaction with a table that was immersed in a more serious conversation.

Knowing Your Guest can pay dividends in how they experience your company and more often than not, leads to a better customer experience. We interacted with Nicole enough to find out that she also works with a summer camp for cancer kids. I was impressed with both her skills as a server and ability to connect with us on a deeper level.

This next example may seem the opposite of the experience at the Cosmopolitan. I'm still conflicted as to whether I like the open approach they take to letting their employees determine how to treat a guest or if I like this example better.

On a recent weekend visit to a local resort, the Homestead, I quickly noticed that every time I said "Thank-you" to anyone, the response was always "My pleasure." Over the course of the weekend both my boyfriend and I noted this behavior and we talked to each other about it time and time again. Clearly, the Homestead has a policy that its employees should always respond to guests by saying, "My pleasure." And, while some people might find a comment like that to be stilted, I found it to be very genuine and I enjoyed feeling like the Queen of the Castle for a weekend. My observation is that Being Consistent in your customer service can deliver a big upside in how your customers perceive your level of service.

As I travel all across the country I am amazed (and sometimes confused) about varying levels of customer service and how employees interact with customers. I've noticed a decreasing desire to truly engage and delight customers and that saddens me and makes me want shine a spotlight on those times when I do have an outstanding (mind-blowing) experience.

What do you think? Are we getting better or worse at having truly great customer experiences?

Maile Keone is an entrepreneur, writer and traveler. She currently works in the vacation rental industry helping people stay in cool places.

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