A Lesson In How to Provide Bad Customer Service – Courtesy of Sheraton JFK

If you saw my tweets last night you probably saw how frustrated I was. My experience last night is a lesson in how to provide bad customer service, courtesy of the Sheraton JFK airport.

Let me share the story with you so if you’re running a hotel, you can avoid this pitfall

I arrived at the airport shuttle location at JFK (Federal Circle)  at 10:40 pm last night after being awake for 24 after a very long day and international flight. I called the hotel and requested the shuttle. The operator said if it wasn’t there in 10 minutes to call back. And so it began.

I called back shortly after 10:50pm. I called again at 11:15pm. I called again at 11:30pm. Each time I was told that it had been dispatched and they didn’t know where it was.

At 11:45 the Hilton, not the Hilton Garden Inn (this is important later in the story), the Hilton bus driver, on his fourth pass, offered to drop me at the hotel. I said the Hilton, yes, the Hilton hotel bus driver, who had passed me several times, offered to drive me.

I arrived at the hotel at 11:50. It took less than 5 min from the shuttle area to the hotel. Why couldn’t the Sheraton shuttle find its way there in over an hour?

The front desk agent told me that it was because of road construction. Really? The Hilton, Doubletree, Holiday Inn/Best Western and Hilton Garden Inn bus each passed 3 or 4 times.

Then, to my surprise, I was told for the first time (yes, for the first time) that I could have taken the Hilton Garden Inn bus, which passed me 4 times – and in fact, had pulled up within 5 minutes of my arrival at the shuttle area. Why didn’t anyone tell me that when I called? Why didn’t the bus driver ever say that as he passed. Why didn’t the bus have a sign on it?  All very bad examples of customer service.

The front desk agent did comp some Oreos and band aids, so that was very nice of him.

There isn’t anything more frustrating and annoying than being given bad information or no information.  This is a person’s first experience  in many cases, with the hotel. What a horrible impression.

As for my stay at the hotel, well, it left a lot to be desired – but I’ll leave that for another post about dirty hotels.

So, if you operate a hotel, and happen to be reading this, please, please educate your staff. Make sure those who answer calls can provide accurate information. Make sure your guests have a better first impression than this.

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