Posts Tagged Service

Service, Please!

26 June 2011

Service, Please!

It appears that in this country, and the world for that matter, we seem to have lost the sense of what “service” stands for. I’m sure we can all share some horror story or two regarding air travel or trying to return some defective product to a store.

As Innkeepers our “product” can certainly be defined by our physical building and grounds. We work hard to provide a level of comfort and atmosphere in our Inn at a level we hope is above expectation. Service is also something that is expected to be part of the overall experience of a stay in a Bed and Breakfast. And it is the service “with a personal touch” that you will find in most Bed and Breakfast’s and one that we can promise you will find at the Brass Lantern Inn.

A couple of examples of the two extremes of Service –

The Bad –

Fourteen months ago I purchased a new yard tractor at a local store (affiliated with a huge, national chain of stores). On June 19th, while mowing our 1.5 acre yard, the tractor began to run very rough, as if it was ready to shut down. This rough running occurred whenever I engaged the mower deck. It seemed to run better, but not like new, when the mower deck was disengaged. That’s great, but I needed to mow the grass, not use it to pick up a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk at the corner store.

I called the number listed with the Two Year, Unlimited Warranty. By the fourth person on the line I felt like I had shared the symptoms of my problem sufficiently to at least have someone give me some idea of the severity of the issue and even offer a potential resolution. After confirming that yes, I am the owner, and no, I have not been abusing the machine, the service representative explained that the first chance that a repair person could be out to “look at the tractor” was July 23rd, a full 5 weeks away. And the service representative seemed to be telling me this with a straight face. I’m sure they were just following the corporate line on this kind of issue. I needed to speak with someone of a higher pay grade.

After more phone calls and here is the real motivator, posting my situation with blow by blow detail on this national chain’s Forum/Discussion Board the July 23 appointment was changed to June 25th. It is amazing how powerful the internet can be…

And, as anyone who has been in this situation could script – Repair person comes out this past Saturday, opens the hood of the tractor, listens to the rough running, pulls at a few wires and says, “yep, you need a new ‘coil’.” I then say, “great, do you have the part in your truck (with my fingers crossed?” Repair Person, “No, sorry, it is a ‘Special Part’ that we will have to ‘expedite’ delivery.” So of course I ask, “when do you anticipate delivery of the part.” “Well, my computer here says it will be, July 25….” Lovely, so what am I supposed to do with my yard for the next four weeks? I think I will see if a local farmer has some sheep that they could lend me.

In my book that is not service. That is meeting the absolute minimum of a warranty agreement. Period. Ultimately, this has left such a negative impression on me that I can promise you that I will do my best to never, ever purchase anything from the company ever again.

And for a positive example –

Our family had plans to go on a spring vacation to the Eastern Shore of Maryland, just outside of St. Michael’s in particular. Online, we saw a rental house listed through a local realtor that appeared to meet our needs; bedroom space for our immediate family and a dock for our sailboat. Deposit submitted, confirmation receipt from the Realtor and we began to packing for our vacation.

About two weeks prior to our planned arrival, we receive an e-mail from the Realtor, “sorry, the owner of the house can not honor the originally agreed reservation.” No explanation provided. I called the Realtor to discuss. Turns out that the owner of the house neglected to tell his wife about our reservation request (that included Easter Weekend) and they had plans for a family gathering there themselves.

The Realtor explained that he would do everything he could to provide us with a comparable house. He really was on it immediately. After a few options we were presented with a wonderful house (larger than our original reservation) and at no additional cost. It was most likely a better house in the end and the Realtor never discussed or presented any issues of additional payment due.

We had a great vacation as a result of great service. And if poor service warrants a review, then good service does as well. I posted our story on the rental web site to show others that this Realtor provided an excellent level of service. We sincerely hope that others that may be considering a stay through this agent see that service is a key component of their business model.

We hope to provide our guests with that “ah, this is just the getaway that we needed!” kind of experience. Given the chance we will show you our level of Service. And if you are still skeptical and you have a moment, check out what others have to say about our level of service on TripAdvisor.com.