Thursday, 10 December 2015

Don’t risk your reputation on rude front desk staff

Teach your staff to be polite. Flickr image by user KoiQuestion. CC BY-SA 2.0

Recently I was at one of the famous guest houses in Thamel of Kathmandu to meet one of my friends from India.

He had called me from the guest house landline and I could not grasp the room number correctly. When I asked the front desk staff, he fumbled through few pages, could not find the name and threw the ledger to me. I scanned through the pages but could not find the name.

The staff showed no interest at all to help. Instead, he claimed my friend might have lodged with some other hotel.

I took out my cellphone and showed him the number. Luckily, it was dialed from the guest house. Then the next person at the front desk came forward and checked in the computer’s log. And there he was – in the room no 308.

He dialed the room and handed me the phone. I thanked the man for his kindness. However, from now onwards I would never recommend any of my friends to stay there.
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A reputed bank in the heart of Kathmandu, known for its customer base and profitability, has no dearth of customers. However, one thing that it lacks and which makes its service sucks – is again, the front desk staff manners.

Recently, I was at the bank and was a victim of snobbish behaviour of a front desk officer at one of its branches in Maharajgunj. As I was in a hurry to collect the statement, I rushed to the twenty-something guy and asked him where I can get the statement. To my astonishment, he behaved with me as if I was a schoolboy asking him irrelevant questions. Not even looking at me, he pointed me to a teller and said, “Can’t you see, it’s written over there – in BIG letters?” And literally, he was pouring his frustration on me.

When I enquired at the counter, the officer once again politely pointed me to the same guy. I was miffed to be directed to the same rude officer. However, this time, he yelled the guy’s name and asked him to hand me the envelope.

As I got to the front desk, he asked, “NAME?” When I told him my name, within a minute, he took out the envelope, handed it to me and said, “Why didn’t you ask me to search the envelope?” And again he was rude as earlier, as if I had asked him to fetch the three golden apples.  

Dumbfounded, I returned from the bank and decided not to continue banking with them.

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Incidents like above happen all the time – even at so-called reputed organisations. And they only bring bad names to those organisations. In the past, nothing much happened to such rude front desk staff and the organisations. However, things have changed and with the return of word-of- mouth era along with the advent of social media, the customer base can deplete in the blink of an eye.

Few months back, one of my seniors bought a pair of shoes on sale from a reputed store in Durbar Marg. As he reached home and found some defects, he went back and asked for a replacement. However, the shop owner didn’t listen to him. Vexed by the irresponsible behaviour, he clicked a picture of the shoes and posted it on Facebook detailing how he got cheated. Within minutes, everybody was cursing the storekeeper. The post went viral. You can imagine how many customers the store lost to that silly mistake.     

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Now let’s again talk about the two incidents of irresponsible behaviour of the front desk staff. Replace myself with an angry customer. Then add the power of word-of-mouth and social media. With every tweet and every comment, the customers would have cursed them and asked their friends not to deal with them again.

With the popularity of social media, the power to promote and of course, to demote is controlled by the mere fingertips of customers. And believe me, most of the times, there is no involvement of the brain! It can either enthrone or dethrone you within seconds. 

Remember, customer relationship starts at your organisation’s gate itself. If you want to keep yourself ahead of the competition, make sure to train your guards and front desk staff to treat every customer with politeness. 

Who knows what tomorrow will bring. Wouldn’t you prefer a celebrity posting a selfie with your sweet and polite janitor?

The names have not been mentioned to protect the identities.        

Further reading
Protecting Your Company’s Reputation From Employee Risk

Here’s a paragraph from the above piece.

In Deloitte’s 2014 global survey on reputation risk, it was revealed that over half of the high-level executives surveyed believed that their biggest risk to company reputation came from its internal staff.

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