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heartBe Responsive and Be Available. It is amazing how much businesses spend on marketing and advertising, yet when the customer finally calls, no one is available and there is no response.

My father-in-law is being buried in Arlington in May. It is a big honor and many family members from around the country are going to attend the prestigious ceremony. Working with the sales department of a well-known hotel in the Washington DC area, we reserved a block of rooms for a set rate. They were very helpful in setting this up. However, as family members began calling into the hotel reservation center to book, the problems began. The sales department had failed to communicate the set rate and situation to the reservationists so people were told “I don’t know anything about this”. People were transferred to the sales department, but of course, it was a weekend and the sales office was closed. Emails were written to the sales department on Friday concerning the arrangements, but as of Tuesday afternoon, there still was no response or return of phone calls.

So, here you have a sad occasion that has become even more stressful. Imagine if the sales department had communicated all the information to the reservation department and also given the reason for why the block of rooms and rate had been set aside. The reservationists could then have personalized each call acknowledging the situation “I’m sorry for the loss of your loved one, yet what a memorable, incredible event you will be attending. We are glad you have chosen our hotel to be the place where we can share this memory with you.” What a WOW that would have created even before any one got to the hotel. Instead there is a permeating feeling that the hotel doesn’t really care and our family is just “another conference and block of rooms”. It is going to take a huge effort on the hotel staff to change this experience around once we actually arrive.

So simple it could have been – being Responsive and being Available. Every business can return an email or voice mail around quickly. Even if you don’t have the answer immediately, a response of “I will get back to you in 2 hours” is better than no response at all. And every business should have a backup for availability. No one person should have sole responsibility for a total process.  It doesn’t take a lot to win a customer’s heart these days.  Set your business apart from your competition.  Be Responsive and Be Available.

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