Golden Opportunities Lie in Handling the Cranky Guest 
and the Next Guest in Line
by Brandt Ford 

Ms. Jones has been waiting in line for several minutes and finally it is her turn to check in. Then it happens. A guest elbows in front of her and explodes. “What is the matter with you people,” he shouts at the guest service representative (GSR). “My colleague left a message for me four hours ago and I never got it.” 

Although some might see this as a double calamity for the GSR, in reality this is a moment of double golden opportunity. Not only can the angry guest (call him Mr. Brown) be happily satisfied, Ms. Jones can be converted to a lifetime guest. 

Here’s how. 

First the GSR must acknowledge the presence of both guests: “Your message sir? Let me check on that. Ms. Jones, I’ll be with you in one moment.” 

Handle The Complaint 

Use a calm, soothing tone of voice. Show genuine concern. Look directly into Mr. Brown’s eyes. Say “Mr. Brown, I know how important it is that you get your messages promptly. I apologize. I know that it is hard to make something like 
that up to you, but please tell me, how can I make this right?” Take out a piece of paper and start writing as he talks, but maintain eye contact as much as possible. Be prepared to do whatever he asks… and do it quickly. Let him know that he is absolutely right — the message should have been delivered promptly — and that corrective action will be taken to ensure that procedures are improved.  After Mr. Brown gets past his anger he’s likely to say, “Oh, you don’t have to do anything, I just wanted to let you know.” 

Handle The Next Guest 

In the meantime, Ms. Jones has been listening to every word. Is she upset that she has had to wait? Yes. But, before Ms. Jones has a chance to say anything, the GSR turns to her and flashes a great big smile. “Ms. Jones, you have been wonderful. Thank you so much for waiting while I resolved that problem.” The important factors while handling Ms. Jones are to stay even-tempered, show admiration for her patience, and speak respectfully of Mr. Brown’s situation. “Let’s get you checked in as quickly as possible.” Change the subject to something focusing on her. “How was your day, Ms. Jones?” Or, “Did you know there’s a special on HBO tonight? You might want to watch it.” 

The Golden Opportunities 

The first golden opportunity is to exceed Mr. Brown’s expectations. After he has left the front desk area, and after taking care of Ms. Jones, find a way to let him know that he is a very important customer. Buy dinner for him, give him a free movie, or give him a deep discount coupon for his next visit. Decide on the gift, act quickly, and make sure he knows something good is happening as a result of his comments. Mr. Brown will feel good about himself because he has helped the hotel, and good about the hotel because they made him feel special. 

The second golden opportunity is to do something nice for Ms. Jones. Because she is not expecting special treatment, any small gesture on the part of the GSR will be a bonus. For example, upgrade her to a suite. The GSR can whisper across the counter, “I upgraded your room, Ms. Jones, thanks for being so understanding tonight.” Or send cookies to her room with a personal note of thanks. Ms. Jones will feel good about the hotel because they handled Mr. Brown so professionally, and good about herself because she feels genuine appreciation from the GSR. 

(Brandt Ford is a regional vice president for Towne Park of Annapolis, MD.) 
©1995 The Rooms Chronicle 
May/June '95, Vol 3, No 3, Pg 2 

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Also See: Quick Six Inspection Is A Way for the Busy Manager to Stay In Touch / Gail Edwards
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