Friday, May 04, 2012

"Thank You"



Sometimes a simple, sincere "Thank you" is the best part about working. 

As regular readers of this blog know I work parttime, two night a week at a small hotel in downtown Lewes, Delaware.  In my previous life, I worked as a trust operations manager at a major Philadelphia bank.  Since retiring ten years ago I began working parttime as a hotel front desk clerk. 

Those of you who work with the public know that it can sometimes be frustrating.  Sometimes I wonder "Why am I doing this?"  Yet there are other times like this evening when I knew exactly why I am working in the customer service/hospitality business.  It is because my nature is to serve and please. 

The way a stand up comedian get reinforcement by the laughter from his audience from a joke he tells or an actor receives applause, I get my reinforcement from a guest who looks me in the eye and says "Thank you very much Ron."  Why it's almost as nice as a raise.  ("Almost", I said.  I'll still take the raise.)

This afternoon when I came in on my shift at 3 p.m. I got a call from room 304.  The guest told me she didn't have any glasses in her room.  I apologized for the oversight and told her I would take two glasses to her room right away.  She also asked if she could have "some milk or half and half" for her coffee.  I told her I would also take that up to her.

A few minutes later I knocked on her door.  After what seemed like an interminable length of time, she opened the door.  I handed the tray to her with the two glasses and the covered stryofoam cup of half and half.  I told her it was "half and half."  She said "Whatever."  Uh oh.

When I returned to the front desk I asked my co-worker "Is there a problem with 304?" (we usually refer to our guests by their room number - hotel talk).  He said "She's not happy with her room."  I said "What's the matter with her room?"  He said "She doesn't like the view, she wants a clearer view of the water." Note:  Our hotel is located next to the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal and not all rooms have an unobsturcted view of the water/canal.

These guests were staying four nights and we are full this weekend (The Lewes Car Show) so I couldn't offer them another room.

Later on, as I was passing through the lobby, I saw the couple sitting in the lobby reading newspapers.  I asked them if they had dinner and how was it.  The lady put down her newspaper, slowly looked up at me and said "It was fine and thank  you very much for asking."  She seemed somewhat surprised that I even asked her.

I went back to my front desk and noticed that a room with a better view was available the next three days.   I offered the room to her (at no increase in cost, the room is more expensive because it is on the top floor with the best views and a king sized bed).  She looked at me again and for the first time I saw a smile come to her face like the morning rising sun.  She said "What is your name?"  I told her "Ron."  She said "You know Ron, you're the first person since we've checked in here that has shown an interest in our situation.  You're the first person who cares. I thank you for that."

I was a bit taken aback by the unexpected compliment and momentarily at a loss for words.  After all, this is my job to take care of our guests and to make sure they have a pleasant experience during their stay at our hotel. 

I thanked her.  I told her that I operate on the theory that I treat the hotel guests the way I would like to be treated when I am a hotel guest.  To me this is a no brainer.  She said "You are the exception.  Most people in the customer service world don't seem to care."  I told her that I've experienced the same thing. I also told her that when I did receive good customer service, it was a rarity instead of the rule. 

She was reluctant to move to a differnt room because they were already settled into their room.  I offered to have one of our staff move their things to the new room with the better view.  Her eyes perked up at my suggestiong.  She said she would get back to me after she asked her husband. 

A few minutes later she called down to the front desk and said "Yes, we will move."  I said "Good! I'll take care of everything." 

About fifteen minutes later I heard the elevator bell ring as it opened it doors on the first floor.  The same guest I was just talking too exited the elevator with a smile on her face.  She said "I just happened to look out our window and saw that my car light were on.  I'm glad I looked out.  There is a God!" 

She turned off her car lights and came back in the door by the front desk.  She looked at me, again with that same smile on her face and said "Thank you for everything Ron and have a good night." 

And that folks is why I work.

15 comments:

  1. That's a really cool story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Cubby. We have a room for you at the hotel. Visit us sometime!

      Delete
  2. Ron - what a joy you are. Too bad you don't live in Houston, I would hire you in a minute. People who are good at customer service are hard to find. I want to visit your hotel, it sounds amazing.... Keep up the good work. Melissa

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Mellissa! My Mom taught me to have manners and to be respectful in public. I enjoy customer service. Those few times I get a "stinker", I just look at that as a challenge. I usually prevail.

      Delete
  3. My parents instilled the sense of manners in us at a very young age and it's stuck to me.
    I am all about Please and Thank You and My pleasure.
    It goes a long way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bobl

      Again, something we have in common. My Mother taught me from a very young age to have manners, be respectful and say "Thank You." I sound like an old fogey now, but manners with kids these days are hard to find. I don't remember the last time that a child said "Thank you" to me. In fact, I have a hard time remembering when anyone said "Thank you." Just this morning at BJ's Wholesale Warehouse a Mom was there with her three kids. They were running and screaming all over the place, disrupting everyone. I don't blame the kids, it's Mom. Of course she did nothing. You know how those kids are going to be when they grow up don't you? Same way.

      Ron

      Delete
  4. anne marie in philly6:25 PM

    nice story to start the weekend! I would love to stay at your hotel in the "off-season"!

    and yes, the younger generations do not have manners; since when did "no problem" replace "thank you"?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Ron, you are an exeptional person - so it is only natural that you'd be a priceless employee.
    It's obvious that your caring attitude comes from the heart. Unfortunately, good manners seem to largely be a thing of the past. Politeness was instilled in me at a very early age - - not only by my mother, but also by the teachers at the private school I attended. It was a different era back then and I sorely miss it.....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jon,

      You are ver kind! I don't consider myself an exceptional employee, only doing what I'm hired to do. I am in the hospitality business. If I didn't like what I did I would get out of the business. You're right about good manners being a thing of the past. My Mother taught me good manners. Occasionally I have strayed but she always pointed out to me the error of my ways. I think good manners has to be instilled at an early age. These days I am so disappointed in children who, when introduced to you say nothing. They won't even look you in the eye. What's that all about? I can't remember, if ever, a child being introduced to me who said "Hello Mr. Tipton." Never. And that includes my family. Sad.

      You're right, it was a different era "back then" and I sorely miss it.

      Ron

      Delete
  6. Perhaps it's a small thing, but in my sphere/local (college town) response from any service staff has shifted from "You're welcome" and "My pleasure" almost exclusively to "No problem" or "Not a problem". I know it means essentially the same thing, but there is a small implication built into 'no problem' that what you might have asked for (and thanked someone for) might indeed have been a problem. I think some staff are specifically instructed NOT to use 'no problem', so I don't think I'm alone in finding 'no problem' a little annoying. By the way, I personally am never -- never -- imperious and demanding, and always try to be gracious. It seems to always pay off.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dave,

      I have the same reaction to "no problem" as a response as you do. I don't use that term myself but I have slipped occasionally and said "That's what I'm here for" which I really shouldn't use. I always say "You're welcome" or "I'm glad to do it." I'm not just saying it but I do mean it because I wouldn't have the job I have unless I liked being part of guests having a pleasant experience when they stay at our hotel. We must have been brought up in the same way Dave but I am also never imperious or demanding because I know how it comes off at "the other end." That is one of the big benefits of being in the customer service/hospitality business, I know what works and what doesn't work. Screaming and hollering and being disrespectful rarely works. Just ask and if it isn't done, then go the next step higher. Those rare times that you encounter a rude or unprofessional employee can almost always be corrected by going one step higher. Being polite and respectful does seem to almost always pay off.

      Thank you for your comment Dave.

      Ron

      Delete
  7. Yesterday when I was out and about, I held the door for a family coming in behind me and their child - looked to be about 4 - piped up "Thank you"'. I said "You are welcome! Do you know you have better manners than a lot of grown ups I know?" and he beamed and said "YES!" It's a sad commentary when you are shocked by good manners.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Holly,

      Wasn't that a surprise? It is a sad commentary when we are shocked by good manners, especially from a child. It really is a shame because by teaching a child of four to have the good manners to say "Thank you", good things come back to him. I was so glad that you told him he had good manners. Good for you Holly.

      Ron

      Delete
  8. I try to say the obvious and thanks you several times a day, knowing this simple statement can make a person's day. Who knows if the ripple effect creates it into a change of Fate for some.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dr. Spo,

      Again, you are exactly right. Something so simple, obvious and easy as saying "Thank you" is missed by so many people. My Mother taught me early to say "Thank you" and I am so glad she did. How many parents these days do you know who teach their children to say "Thank you?" Sadly, I don't know of any. I can't remember the last time a child said thank you to me on their own. There were a few occasions where a child said "thank you" but only after being urged by their parents, and only then their "thank you" was very reluctant and not sincere. Sad, sad.
      Ron

      Delete