May 4, 2011

Creating Service Expectations

I recently experienced some difficulty trying to use the online check-in feature at Hyatt's website.  This has happened to me before.

So I did what anyone smartphone-enabled customer does in this day and age: I Tweeted a message to Hyatt telling them of the problem and noting my disappointing with the recurring inconsistency of the function.  It wasn't a really big deal to me, but I wanted to let them know it wasn't working so the problem could be fixed.

Within a very short period of time, I received a series of Tweets back from Hyatt acknowledging the problem and my concern.  That's all I needed.

Then came the final tweet: And we've upgraded you to one of our suites for your stay. Really?  A minor problem on the website gets me upgraded to a suite?  Hmm.

Now perhaps this was done because I've been a Hyatt Diamond member for some time, but the response seems a bit over-the-top.  It's out of proportion to the problem I experienced.  And worse yet, it doesn't leave much room for the hotel to make up for any really significant hiccups that I might encounter as a guest.  What else could they do for me?  Comp my stay?  Give me a new car?  Rename the hotel after me?

When responding to service situations, we must be careful about the expectations we might create for the future.  If you constantly respond to email almost immediately, you will over time create an expectation for an instant response.  Give suite upgrades for a minor complaint?  Guess what?  I'd like my upgrade every time something goes wrong thank you very much.

By all means, we must thoughtfully address any service shortcomings.  But not every problem merits compensation beyond acknowledging the concern and fixing the problem.  We don't want to create a mindset in which sharing feedback automatically leads to getting a prize.

The real prize with customer service is when extra benefits are offered unexpectedly, not when they are used as compensation.

So thanks for the suite upgrade, but it wasn't necessary and really shouldn't be done.  Give it next time to the family who is staying for the first time at your property, to the couple celebrating a special anniversary, or to a traveler who arrives after a ridiculous series of flight delays.  It's likely to generate more goodwill in any of those situations, yet not create an expectation that the same thing will happen again in the future.

2 comments:

David M. Patt, CAE said...

Very sensible assessment, Jeffrey, but, unfortunately, not everybody uses common sense.

Joan Eisenstodt said...

Jeffrey - Hyatt does a great job, generally, responding. The upgrade seems odd to me and agreed, not in line w/ the problem experienced. And I concur with David.