Monday, February 1, 2016

Let's Change Customer Service This Year!

Well, I made up my mind to put some efforts in changing today’s bad customer service and will exchange all personal bad experience with my readers this year (anyway hoping not to have many).  We all are experiencing unsatisfactory customer service interactions here and there, but in most cases we keep our emotions to ourselves, thinking that nobody cares, or that it’s pointless to complain. In this way we let it slide without any punishment, make a mental note to avoid the company in the future, and that’s it.

My previous article was about airlines’ bad service, and today’s experience is related to hotels. Both services are very popular nowadays for many people who travel for both pleasure and business.

Recently I had an unpleasant customer service experience with a well-known hotel chain Citadines, a member of The Ascott - a Singapore company known as the world's largest international serviced residence owner-operator, functioning in 95 cities across 27 countries.
Citadines is one of its three award-winning brands which we liked during our vacation spent in Lyon last summer. As all loyal customers, we decided to spend our winter vacation in the same brand, but this time in Tbilisi, Georgia. It’s our neighboring country and it is usually a four-hour ride from Yerevan where I live.
So, without even imagining that we’ll have any force majeure, we booked a non-refundable family room for four people. When we heard the weather forecast with heavy snowstorms for the next few days, we sent an email to announce about the weather “surprise” we had, asking to cancel our reservation. Well, we “may” have reached Tbilisi in fourteen hours instead of four, but when you travel with kids, you try not to disturb them so much.
Soon we received a reply from the hotel representative asking for our phone number to speak to us. We called the hotel, and the lady told that when their management is back, they hope to refund our money back. Afterwards we received another email, saying that they cannot refund, instead next time when we book the hotel, they will make some discounts. 
I couldn’t imagine, that the “reputation” of a worldwide operator could cost 550$. Is this a huge amount for a hotel chain? Was it worth spreading the world about hotel bad experience? I am complaining not about Tbilisi, but the whole chain policies and normal human interactions.
My next step was tweeting to the company, and imagine, they have a “good” social care - the respond came the next day with the usual regretting tone for the bad experience we had, asking for the details of our reservation… Anyway they haven’t refunded. Later on we received an email, saying that they will try to make 50% discount on our next arrival. And what would you do in our place? Would you book the same hotel any more after all this?
They really had an opportunity to turn our negative experience into a positive one, an opportunity to make us remain loyal and not walk away. But reality is that they earned 550$ instead of maybe thousands of dollars, and which is more important – they could escape negative word-of-mouth. 
This is today’s reality and I am sure many people all over the world experienced such incidents. But time changes and we should express our opinion, tell about our poor experience in hope that one day we’ll really have a better service with better human interactions. We should build our future! Build it today!


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