Here is a true story that shows just how great you can serve clients if you have the right mindset:
It was late Wednesday evening when I went into the hotel lobby in a medium-sized city in Sweden. I was greeted with a warm smile by the receptionist.
“Good evening. Welcome!” she said. I saw her name tag. Linn.
“Hi Linn, my name is Antoni and I have a reservation for one night. I do have a small problem. Perhaps you can help me?”
“I hope so. What do you need?”
“Well, it’s been a long day and I just arrived from Helsinki in Finland, but my luggage didn’t make it. This is all I have.” I said, pointing at my wrinkled clothes. “Early tomorrow morning I’ll give a keynote. Do you by any chance sell shirts?”
The question isn’t strange. Many hotels have a small selection of clothes for stranded businesspeople like me.
“I am so sorry,” she said, “We don’t sell clothes. I do have this though,” she said and gave me a vanity kit with a toothbrush and toothpaste.
She could have stopped right there. She did everything by the book. But here’s what happened: She looked at me from top to bottom and said:
“You have the same size as my colleague. Wait here. I’ll be back.”
She left and a minute later she returned, holding a white, ironed shirt that he handed me.
“There you go. You can borrow this. Best of luck with your speech.”
This, for me, is a 5-star service. Linn is my hero. While writing this piece, I have a new assignment in that same city within short. It wasn’t hard for me to decide where to stay. I hope I will meet Linn again.
I am hypersensitive to good and bad service. For me, it is a reflection, or symptom, of how the company culture is. The way you meet, greet and treat your colleagues has a direct impact on how you meet, greet, and treat your customers. So, the question I asked as I went to my hotel room was: Is Linn an extraordinary person in an ordinary workplace, or is her behavior a reflection of this hotel’s culture? I got the answer the morning after. I came down to the reception with the white shirt on. Linn was replaced by Marielle.
“Hi Marielle,” I said and explained why I had their shirt on. “Now, is it possible that I just pay for the shirt and keep it. Otherwise, I need to return here after my keynote and give it back.”
Marielle didn’t need much time to answer. “You know what. We have an abundance of shirts here. How about you just keep it? No charge.”
I was blown away. Now I had two heroes. I started to pay extra attention during my travels, and I found that this particular chain of hotels from the same owner all shares this amazing desire to give great service. My conclusion is therefore that this isn’t a coincidence. This is about leadership communication at its best. This is how employee engagement is built.