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Closing the Loop

October 5, 2009

By John Munce, Deployment Executive, The Tatham Group

Broken Communication — Image by © Images.com/Corbis

It was a little card sitting in the center of the hotel room desk. I expected nothing and the maid didn’t usually leave me love notes. But that morning on my way to a meeting, I told the desk clerk “65 degrees (F) is a little chilly for my room in the morning.” Yes, I had tried to raise the thermostat. No, nothing had happened. I didn’t think about it again all day.

The card told me that “Our Engineering Representative Was In Your Room Today at 4:48”.  This bit of information alone was valuable. I’ve been in other hotels when I had no idea whether anything had been done to respond to my complaint.

The card then said, “Checked windows, raised T-stat, will stop back to check Rm Temp.”  Now I had an answer to what was really done and a promise of follow-through.

The card also read, “(Sorry for the inconvenience).” Wow, even the engineer apologized. Few things will make me angrier than service people who won’t apologize for something not being right. Even an insincere apology is better than nothing. How many times have you felt that you were inconveniencing a clerk because you wanted something adjusted or changed?

Finally, the card read “#05 Fred.” After doing the work, and explaining to me what was done, Fred told me who had taken the action. It wasn’t some faceless, robotic engineering staff member. It was Fred. I could ask for him again. I’d been helped by a real person.

This little card cost pennies to make and Fred spent maybe one minute filling it out. But it was a crucial part of the process. It closed the loop with the customer. I knew what had been done. I had been treated well. And I had information about what I could do if I was not satisfied.

We can spend much time and energy finding the root cause and making corrections. A little bit of effort to close the loop with the customer can pay dividends too. I had that confirmed at the Omni William Penn in Pittsburgh.

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