I was in New York last week and it was quite a week. However, this post isn’t about what I did but an experience I had with Twitter and the Hilton hotel. I’ve mentioned before how much of a pet peeve bad customer service is for me, and during that week, I got pissed enough to not only tweet about it, but to copy Hilton to my tweet – this is my experience with tweeting about poor customer service and the response I received.
We arrived in New York on a Tuesday afternoon. We got a taxi to our hotel in Westbury (which I was very grateful that I arrived in one piece without any whiplash from the fast driving and fierce breaking). When we arrived there, our check-in was not what I expected for a hotel carrying the Hilton name. We were simply given a sleeve with our room keys and that was it. No “have a good stay”, “the elevator is to your left and you are going to the second floor”, “if there is anything you need please feel free to call us”… nothing. Basically “piss off” but with no words. For me that was strike one. When my husbands family arrived a few hours later, they messaged us asking how the hotel is, and I made it clear that I was not impressed by the customer service so far but it’s not a bad hotel.
The next day (Wednesday) we went down to breakfast and after we ate, the waiter was preparing our bill and my father-in-law pointed out that we had the breakfast package. The waiter then said we need to talk to front desk seeing that we didn’t provide any breakfast vouchers. Strike two. We went to front desk, where we were greeted with an attitude so stink I could only laugh in disbelief at this response.
Clerk: “You didn’t get a voucher? I know I filled them out yesterday and put them aside! I set up your keys (etc)”
Me: “Ok, I’ll go up to our room and check.” (came back down with sleeve and no vouchers)
Clerk: “I know I did those yesterday! *slaps desk, gets more slips and starts filling them out so quickly it almost looks like ink scratched across the paper*
We got our vouchers and were also told that they were for up to two people per room even though, for our room, we booked the breakfast package for three people in our room. I just had enough not to contest and figured things will work out.
We then decided we should probably rent a car for the week. There were seven of us and taxi fare for a week would be pretty ridiculous. So off to front desk I go again (just minutes after sorting the breakfast vouchers) to get numbers for car rental companies. She was pretty ok with that and giving me pen and paper. I found one and after I put down the phone, I realized I forgot to ask their location. Can you believe she told me “the taxi driver should know that”. Really? I just had a enough of the looks and attitude, and figured that there can’t be many locations in this area so it should be fine. Error. We got into the taxi and the guy has attitude with us for not knowing the location of the car rental place but also that the receptionist assumed that he knew the location… again – Really!?
It was only day two and all of this action already?! What happened to friendly service? What happened to making me feel like I need to return to this hotel as well as give it 5 stars?
Day three was what really lead to the tweet. After a long day out, we were in our room relaxing when my sis-in-law started to smell something burning. After 10 minutes she called downstairs. She didn’t get a very friendly greeting and the clerk proceeded to ask her if she knew where the smell was coming from. WHAT!? Was he really asking us to investigate where a burning smell was coming from?! Uh, no! We won’t!! He said he’ll get someone to have a look and give us a call back. Another 10 minutes passed. This time I called. I was greeted with this:
“Uh yea, so are you still smelling it?”
“And you don’t know where it is coming from?”
“OK, I’ll give you a call back when we find out.”
Apparently this was the same clerk that checked us in so I shouldn’t be surprised but, I’m sorry, why does he think it is our job to find out where this smell is coming from? I could only answer with one word answers and it took everything in me to not give this man a piece of my mind. Another 10 minutes… My husband calls. AGAIN, no pleasant greeting, but they found out someone burned popcorn. By this time we were desperate for a little fresh air and my husband asked if there was any way to open the windows to get fresh air, we were advised to put on the A/C because they don’t open. I was simply amazed. After this, I tweeted the following:
Within a few minutes, I was followed by both Hilton and The Hilton Garden City Inn where I was staying. In the morning, I received a direct message asking for my confirmation number, and I happily gave it. Seeing that there were 3 rooms booked under this number I was asked for a first name and room number. Within 10 minutes of giving this information, I received a call from the general manager at the hotel saying she understands I’m not too pleased with the service I’ve been getting and she’d like to know what’s been going. on. I let her know everything. I did not hold back. She expressed that this is not what she expects from staff and she will address all of these issues with staff. I asked for her not to discuss it prior to our departure because from experience, some people are no longer genuine with you and are just pretending to make sure you are happy. I’d prefer to let the rest of the week play out and let her know in a follow up email how everything went. Other arrangements were made and I’d rather not disclose them, but I was very pleased with how she handled everything and she was exactly what I think of when I think of excellent customer service. Also, within 20 minutes, someone was knocking on our door with our new breakfast vouchers for three people. The rest of the week went without a hitch.
Social media now serves as a major outlet for unsatisfied customers to truly be heard and responded to by companies/corporations. If you happen to have a lot of followers/friends and put them on blast, and drive people away from them, that is not good for them. So most of the time, what are they left to do? Respond and make sure that you are given an opportunity to communicate with them personally or even compensated depending on how serious the issue is. I’ll be honest and say that I like having this forum. I definitely did not expect the response I got and whereas I would normally write off a business after a bad experience, I’m more willing to give them a second chance with the hopes of not experiencing bad customer service again.
What are your thoughts on social media as it relates to calling out companies on bad customer service?