My husband and I have been taking a long, rambling route to get from Edmonton, Alberta, to the World Domination Summit in Portland. Along the way we’ve seen many disconnnects and “connects” when it comes to customer service. (Read more about the Reconnect Project and add your examples here.)
Awesome Customer Service
Last Thursday was a day of disconnects and reconnects for me.
We had arrived in the mountain resort of Whistler, BC. and were staying at the Adara Hotel. When you enter the lobby, you are not only greeted with fresh lemon water and apples, but with delicious chocolate chip cookies! A small touch, but a nice one.
The next morning our plan was to go up to the top of the mountain (gondola ride followed by a chair lift to get to the very top). We had to get our bikes out of the car, because we also wanted to do some cycling.
Then we saw it: a flat, flat tire!
No problem, I thought. I’ve got an AMA (Alberta Motor Association) membership. They can fix these things!
Disconnect: Alberta Motor Association
So we called, and were told that their local agent doesn’t do tire repairs. They could only come help us put on the spare tire. Given that we were at the start of a 3 week road trip, the spare tire wasn’t a great solution. And we didn’t need their help to put it on.
The hotel manager, Robert Simpson, overheard.
Reconnect: The Adara Hotel
“Look,” he said. “You two go off and enjoy your morning. I’ve called a local repair shop, and they do tires. If you’d like, I’ll help you get the spare on, then I’ll take the car over to the shop, get it fixed, and it will be ready and waiting for you by the time you get back here at noon.”
Now that, folks, is going above and beyond.
That is the kind of customer service that makes people want to sing your praises, post 5 star reviews on Trip Advisor, and encourage all your friends to stay there!
Since we were planning to do some hiking, and I have asthma at high elevations, I took some Ventolin before going.
Unfortunately, it makes my hands shake.
We were on the chair lift, about 2/3 of the way to the top. I noticed that my cell phone wasn’t in the zippered part of my purse. I tried to move it to safety. Oops…
Down, down, down she went.
My lovely Nexus 5 is now buried deep in the snow at the point where the chair lift is furthest from the ground and the snow is very deep.
And since we are on the road, mostly in small towns, I couldn’t easily buy another one. Sadly, the Nexus 5 is no cheaper to buy in the US than it is in Canada, and in both places it is $150 cheaper if you order it directly from Google than in a phone store, so I’m trying to live without it for the rest of the trip. (Now my hands are shaky from phone withdrawl!)
Reconnect: Garden Cottage B&B in Gibsons
Next we headed over to BC’s Sunshine Coast. The Garden Cottage B&B was lovely! As were hosts Paul and Judy.
They had built a small, charming house in their back yard, hoping it would be used by their children and grandchildren. Well, turns out the kids don’t make it over very often, so they decided to start renting it as a B&B.
The hosts were friendly and attentive. Breakfast was served on a lovely deck overlooking the calm, flower-filled garden.
After a long day’s bike riding on the Sunshine Coast, we sat on the deck, listened to birds chirping, watched a doe and two fawns munching happily on some of Judy’s delicious plants, a raccoon high up in a tree eating cherries, and a hummingbird that hovered in front of us for a long time, trying to figure out if our bright red and yellow cycling jackets were nectar-filled.
Disconnect: A Lonely Town
A couple of days later we rolled into the tiny coastal town of Ilwaco, Washington. It felt like a ghost town. Here we were in what should be prime tourist season, and the place was dead. Almost all boarded up or neglected.
It had once been a busy fishing and lumber town. But both those industries have slumped. And the town just doesn’t seem to have the will to do what some nearby towns have done and build up a good tourist industry.
There’s one great restaurant in town (the only one that seemed open!), and the B&B we stayed at was lovely. But that’s about it. Sad.
Reconnect: Cocktail Hour
Our Ilwaco B&B, the Inn At The Harbor, is in a converted church. The friendly hosts cleverly schedule a “cocktail hour” at 5:30 each evening in the living room. No extra charge.
What’s brilliant about it is that it gets guests talking to each other. We are so starved for personal contact in this digital era that this is a real treat. And it leaves people with a warm feeling about the place. So even though the town was sad, all guests at the Inn end up feeling great about the place, and giving it great ratings online.
The Power of a Smile
This all leads me to a thought that keeps coming to mind every time I fly WestJet instead of Air Canada: It’s about smiles. It’s about human connection. It’s about little personal touches that make you stand out. WestJet usually has them. Air Canada usually doesn’t.
They don’t have to be hard. They don’t have to be expensive. But, boy, do they make a difference!
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Add your good and bad customer experience stories here. Let’s make the world a better place!