Client Astonishment


A couple of weeks ago I was in Vancouver where I stayed at the Four Seasons hotel.

On Thursday I woke up at 4:00 and I couldn’t sleep anymore. I was wide awake, so I decided to do some writing. I took my laptop but I couldn’t log in to the hotel’s WiFi.

After 10 minutes of trying all kinds of tricks I was still unable to connect and so I decided to call the front desk. A very nice lady picked up the phone and said “Good morning mister Habets, what can I do for you this morning?”.

I told here about my WiFi problem and her reaction was “Let me connect you to our IT department”.

IT department? On a Thursday night at 4:00? I was surprised and curious at the same time. I was expecting some call center agent from India, but to my surprise a very well spoken guy greeted me.

“Good morning mister Habets, my name is Jason and my colleague told me you are having some trouble connecting to our hotel Wifi and I’m here to help you with that”.

Wow! I felt so heard and taken seriously,

Jason helped me in 2 minutes. After I connected to the WiFi he asked me if there was something else he could help me with.
I told him that I was surprised that they have an IT department in a hotel. Jason told me that the hotel has 160 rooms and 200 people on staff. He also told me that the IT department was available 365 days a year, 24 hours a day.

I was impressed.

At 5:00 I got hungry. When I checked I saw that the the restaurant only opened at 6:00 and I decided to order room service.

Again: “Good morning mister Habets, my name is Melissa, how can I serve you this morning?”
Me: I’d like to order some Granola and coffee please
Melissa: Certainly sir. It’s 5:12 now, we will be at your room at 5:30.

I love that!

At 5:30 the doorbell rang. When I opened the door there was a nice asian lady, holding a tray with my breakfast.

“Good morning mister Habets, where would you like me to serve your breakfast?”

She didn’t just put the tray on the table, she made up the table like in a restaurant.

When she was done she asked me “Sir, would you like me to take your shoes with me so when can clean and polish them? I will deliver them back to your room before 7:00.”

Again I was  impressed.

My shoes were back at 7:00, wrapped in paper and with a nice hand written note.

On Sunday I had to leave beautiful Vancouver early to drive back to Seattle, where I had to catch a plane at 13:20.

I went over to the concierge and I asked him what the expected waiting times were for crossing the Canadian – US border.

The concierge, Henry, told me that they could vary from 10 minutes to 2 hours.

Henry: what time do you have to be in Seattle?
Me: 13:20
Henry: Ok, I will check the waiting lines on Sunday morning and I will wake you up on time.

Sunday morning 5:20 I got a phone call from Henry “Good morning mister Habets, the current waiting time at the border is less than 10 minutes. If you can be downstairs in 20 minutes we will your car ready for you.”

I got downstairs, Henry greeted me, my car was waiting for me with the engine running.  The valet parking guy greeted me with “Good morning mister Habets, I have put a bottle of water in your car. Weather conditions are fine so you should have a stress free drive to Seattle. Hope to see you soon sir”.

The morale of this story for me is this: Four Seasons doesn’t practice Customer Service. They practice Customer Astonishment.

I met the general manager of the hotel to ask them what he does to keep the quality so high.

He told me 3 things:
1. Every job interview is done with 4 people. 4 conversation in 6 days. No less.
2. Every employee is trained 3 to 4 weeks every year.
4. We hire for attitude we train for skills. We only hire “warm” people.

Four Seasons charges $600 a night and is fully booked. Other, cheaper hotels, charge $120 and they have trouble staying in business. They need Groupon to sell beds.

Four Seasons didn’t sell me a bed, they made my stay into an amazing experience and I’m already planning my stay there next year with my wife and kids.

Every company says that they are client centric.
Few are. Just look around you.

Every company has a customer service department.
But few practice Customer Astonishment.

You can’t always solve your customers problem but you can always listen. You can always assist.

One night the hotel didn’t have a seat for me in their restaurant. They offered me an iPad and some drinks while I waited.

Client Astonishment.