Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Secret Life of a Customer Service Agent

What's up people?

Yeah, I've been lazy. But busy. So I have an excuse. Anyway, here's the latest installment of my blog. Please comment if you'd like. Enjoy!


OK- Before reading, please watch the following clip (I promise it's the only one in this post):

Ignore the Swedish, unless you actually know Swedish...

Now, show of hands. Who has had the following experience (not including totaling a rental car)? Did you have a mean customer service agent? Did they not give you what you wanted? Shame on them YOU! That's right, shame on you! Again, show of hands: were you rude to the customer service agent? Did you raise your voice? Did you have a sense of entitlement? Were you a D.Y. K.W.I.A.? If so, then you deserve it. Please, allow me to explain.

Let's say you've just arrived at the hotel in time for your shift, at 3pm. You're a little off today. You're tired, your feet hurt, and you just don't feel motivated. Why? Because earlier in the day, you got the credit card bill in the mail, and it was bigger than you expected. You also forgot to return your movie to Blockbuster (you should be using Netflix anyway) and now there's a late fee. You were also out of coffee cream when you tried to have coffee when you woke up. After that, you dropped your shiny new iPhone in the crapper. And then you were running late for work when you couldn't find your shoes. Wow, it sounds like you're having a terrible, no good, absolutely horrible very bad day. Poor you. But guess what: no one cares. You have to suck it up and get over it. Back to the current scene: you've just walked in the door and you're logging on to your computer. And this is what you get: 

Why, nice to see you too!

A Platinum-Premier-Diamond-Titanium member! He walks up to the desk and just stares at you. You ponder the awkward moment for a second and then remember: "Oh wait, that's right! I'm supposed to read your mind and already know your name!" Too bad, he's already fired off an email to corporate on his CrackBerry about the absolutely terrible service he's receiving. The rest of his family starts to pour in. He decides to kindly ask demand a free upgrade to a suite from his already free room. Well, do I have any available? But before you can answer, he starts bitching about how his drink on the plane had an odd number of ice cubes.

Life sure is hard when you're on a plane to your vacation sipping a Bloody Mary...

Yes, I've got 4 left for the evening. Yet again, you ponder this for a moment while you watch his grubby little children devils shove each other trying to stick their sticky fingers all over your fresh baked cookies, not leaving any for the other guests.

Get the f*ck out of my cookie jar child!

You excuse yourself, saying that you'll have to check with your manager about that upgrade. As you ease away from the desk, you head to the back with a big grin on your face as you know he ain't gettin' jack shit. You go to the back, say hello to your coworkers, and maybe have a quick snack. Then you speed walk out of the back (to make it look like you're trying to hurry them along) and get their hopes up-- but all is lost when I inform you that there aren't any available. "But maybe tomorrow night," you tell them... But in all reality, there's no way in hell he's getting an upgrade. OK, he says. He now demands a corner room. He's in luck! You have plenty of those available! So you give him the corner room overlooking the dumpster and next to the service elevator and stairway. That way, when he's trying to sleep in on his hard earned vacation (actually, he earned those points while staying on the government rate), housekeeping knocks on his door first thing, bright and early.

Finally, they take their 10 keys (of course, they need two for each family member) and go up to their room.

Ready for the icing on the cake? I'm going to give that enormous presidential suite to the one-time guest who doesn't even ask (or even want) for an upgrade. They'll be the one to ask how your day is going or something of the like. If they show even the slightest effort to treat me as an equal, then they're going to get the royal treatment. They'll get the upgrade, free breakfast for the next morning, and hell, I might even send up a nice bottle of wine!

That's a sweet suite.

Now, does this really happen? 


No, I'm not kidding. This really does happen. Just ask ANYONE who has worked in customer service. Now, I bet you want to avoid this same scenario. I will let you in on a little secret:

Be polite.

Seriously, that goes a long way. Whether you're at the airport, hotel, car rental counter or any other place, this really can take you a long way. Flight canceled? You might end up in first class on the next flight. Room not what you booked? You might get a suite instead. You never know... So please, I ask this on behalf of all hospitality and service industry workers:

Please, treat us like human beings.

Even the smallest things-- like asking how my day has been-- can go a long way... more than you will ever know.

I dedicate this blog post to all of my co-workers in the hospitality industry.
I hope the rest of you are enjoying the snow...

***I am poking fun. If you can't take a joke, then you probably shouldn't be reading my blog.***

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