A Note on My
I have been on
a roll lately in
regards to customer service.
I have a couple
of great notes
to post from
ences. One is
Hotels, which is
for their conservation efforts that are both
simple and business-savvy.
When you stay at a Sheraton or other Starwood
property, you get this great little note on your
pillow or bedside that not everyone notices:
if you hang the tag on the door dismissing
housekeeping for the day, you get $5 off a
hotel restaurant experience.
How great is that?
Not only do I not need someone to change
my sheets after one night, but I certainly can
get some loyalty love with that $5 discount.
Next up is my Affinia Hotels experience. I
had never heard of them before I booked on
Hotels.com, but as I flew into New York City,
I was pleasantly surprised to find an article
in USA Today describing the company’s new
training mission. I was even more pleased
that my desk attendant Jenna confirmed the
details of the article without knowing it was
actually in print.
This great family-owned boutique chain
bumped up personal service over the summer in its five hotels in New York City and
one each in Chicago and Washington, D.C.
Everyone, from housekeeping to management, was trained by a body language
expert on what cues to look for to better
provide exceptional service. I know of only
one retailer in the business who goes to the
same effort, and she operates in Canada:
Barbara Ackerman, owner of The Cook’s
Place in Toronto. I am looking forward to
the day when I can host her model of staff
training here in the States.
Anyway, so why do I have the right to rant
about customer service, aside from being
a customer? Most of my ranting is actually
due to the fact that during the past 12
years of writing for the specialty gourmet
industry, the last two have coincided with
our own family restaurant business.
It’s funny, but when you say independent
specialty retailer to some manufacturers,
they immediately “shut down,” so to speak.
Well, you and I know that it’s not really “so
to speak.” But instead it is a definite thud,
a glazing over of the eyes, a loss of interest.
After all, how big of an account could we
be? Or so they thought.
I guess we can thank the recession for this
change in mindset – I know of a few big
boys who are about to announce “
specialty-only” lines and sales tools. I guess good
business practices finally won something
for the independents. And a few smart
manufacturers are taking notice.
It would seem that Independent Business
People are finally getting the attention we
have deserved all along. It’s an interesting
phenomenon to me. When we first opened
our restaurant business two years ago this
coming December, a major beer distributor
we were trying to contact took nearly a
month to respond to us. When they finally
responded, they told us what we wanted
to order. We patiently told them our order
again – craft beers and a few domestic –
and they told us again we did not know our