Thursday, February 16, 2012

Sheraton's "Peggy" Help Desk

You probably have all seen the credit card company television commercial where customers call with a problem and are greeting by a guy with a Russian accent located in Siberia who notes, "This is Peggy, how can I help you?" In the end no caller actually receives any resolution to their problem and each visually displays the frustration we all feel when we receive poor customer service. The goal of lean is improved customer service so I as a lean thinker have little patience for poor customer service.

In mid-January my wife and I decided rather spontaneously to fly to Maui for a couple of weeks. We used Hotwire to book two hotels and booked the third online using the chain’s website. Our first stay was at a Hyatt Resort which was a wonderful experience. We were treated like valued customers by everyone at the resort. Our second hotel, a Best Western facility in Lahaina, was located in a historic hotel building constructed in 1901. It was a lovely building with balconies overlooking an inner courtyard. Its city center location allowed us to walk to restaurants and entertainment venues without having to use the rental car. The staff was gracious and helpful and we have vowed to stay here again should we return to Maui.

Our last hotel was a Sheraton resort. At our first two locations in room wireless internet connectivity was included in the cost of the stay. While registering at the Sheraton I was informed we would again have free internet access (not really true for they charge a $25/day resort fee). So shortly after unpacking I pulled out my I-Pad and tried to access the Internet. After 10 minutes of trying with no success I called the front desk. The operator said she would connect me to the Sheraton "help desk" which gave me immediate hope that my problem would be resolved - foolish me. After 20 minutes on the phone I was given a log number and the 1-800 numbers so I could call back later because the tech could not solve the problem. When I called back about 2 hours later I was informed they still had no solution. The tech was always very apologetic that I had no service but never offered any hope that I might in the future! I pointed out that I was the customer and didn't feel I should have to spend my vacation time calling them - "Couldn't you call me when it is fixed?” He agreed but needless to say the Sheraton’s "Peggy" never called back. Having a help desk somewhere in Asia must absolve the onsite Sheraton employees from providing customer service but I wasn't about to let go of this issue.

The next morning I walked to the hotel lobby where I talked with a reservation clerk who promised to contact IT and get back to me on my cell phone with an update. As I departed I noted the seven people waiting in line to talk with only two clerks and I wondered what the priority of my issue was relative to the issues of everyone else in line. By mid-afternoon I had not heard from the clerk, IT or Peggy. I again visited the front desk and talked with a new clerk who promised me she would have IT call me within a few minutes after I returned to my room. Imagine the shock when I actually received a call. Finally the truth was revealed. I was told there was a problem with a block of rooms and they were waiting on a vendor to find a solution. The IT tech quickly offered to compensate me for the lack of wireless service by removing the $25/day resort fee that they charge every room to cover the cost of connectivity. Large hotel chains and resorts like the Sheraton continue to charge for internet connectivity when the rest of the world offers it for free. In the last two years I stayed in small hotels and B&Bs in Ireland, France, China and Australia and they all offered free wireless connectivity. When given the choice I stay away from large hotels chains for they focus on profit before customer. That is why they employee “Peggy.”

My travel plans in March and early April have me visiting Las Vegas, the UK and Paris. If you reside in one of those locations and would like to meet and talk about Lean Safety let me know.