Writing this from my hotel room at the famed Waldorf NYC, where old school customer service lives on. My first trip to NYC was in 1995, and I was lucky enough to stay here. An experience I never forgot, and every time since, I leave here with a smile and cannot wait to return.
This time, I sit here thinking that at the end of the week this old school beauty will no longer be….does that mean the end of Customer Service the way it used to be? And still should be?
In a day and age where we can get anything we want without leaving our homes, and without any human interaction, we tend to forget what actual Customer Service means.
Sure, we all gripe when our online purchase is not sitting at our door step in the morning: “What do you mean it isn’t next day shipping?”.
Another example, we can’t believe that one of our home services, be it internet, our movie packages, any of the many we pay for, are down for 30 minutes. We suddenly feel more entitled and we lash out on social media with #companyname, or you send out a nasty email to the general mailbox under the “contact us” tab.
But, when it comes to actual face to face customer interaction, we have lost our way. Hiding behind emails, texts, tweets, we can say whatever we feel and never have to face anyone.
Receiving a response to our rant on social media or an email from the online manager of the service, this somehow provides us with some sort of satisfaction. But does it really?
Walking into the Waldorf NYC with my daughter’s and my sister, the staff was always two steps ahead of us. Smiling, talking to us, asking my girls questions. Real conversations, with real people. The whole experience is unparalleled today.
As someone that has the opportunity to travel North America for work, staying in hotels is part of the job. Not that I have had too many issues with the various overnight stays, however, a few times I have had to complain and have been told I would get extra points, or free breakfast. All of which make me feel somewhat better, however….
The art of Customer Service is so much more than extra points. For example, hearing that my girls were such huge New York City fans, our front desk clerk went and got them every brochure and spent 30 minutes telling them about his favorite places to see. He also put together pens, postcards and other small memorabilia for the four of us.
The porter heard our last name and tried his very best to speak French to us. My daughter got to play on the beautiful baby grand at the front entrance, and the staff was all smiles.
All this to say, we really need to take a step back from our laptops, our phones, our plugged-in-ness, and engage with people. Human interaction. Actually speak with them. Voice your thoughts if you feel something isn’t up to par. It is amazing what you can get done with just using your words. When I say words, I mean actual sentences, not just #’s! Real Customer Service, when you have to face the person, and own the situation. Not just an email.
I have two more days of old school customer service to experience here in NYC, hoping that this art form makes a comeback, I am more than happy to be the start of that.
Originally published at medium.com