In times when businesses seem to want to have a 'cookie cutter' approach to service, a McWay of doing things, it's nice to experience how one person can humanize an entire corporation. We stayed in Dayton, Ohio last night on our way down to Nashville. We were both tired from the drive and seeing the familiar 'Fairfield Inn' sign actually gave us a warm feeling. We like the Marriott chain and stay whenever we can.
Many have complained about how these chains homogenize the experience of travel. Well, yeah, that's why I like them. Getting up at night and knowing which way to go to find the bathroom is increasingly important to me as I get older. The similarity in room layout, in the location of amenities, are things I like. They save me stubbed toes and icky accidents. Sue me.
What makes any place unique, of course, is the people who work there. No training can create a uniform personality - thank heavens. When we checked into the hotel, we were stuck between front door and middle door in a little anteroom. There were no buttons to push to have the doors magically open and we were struggling a little bit. A guy came in behind Joe and as Joe was reaching around to get the next door open he said, "I work here, would you like me to help with getting you both in?"
We said 'yes' and he helped us get in.
Both of us. Not me, the guy in the chair. Both of us, that was nice.
Then upon check in, before I even confirmed the fact that it was a wheelchair room, which I always do because though we often request it, have it guarenteed, it is often not provided, the fellow - now behind the desk - says, "I see we have you in one of our accessible rooms, I hope it has everything you need."
Once in the room for 15 minutes he called, like all hotels call these days, to ask how we like the room. Then, "if you have any suggestions as to how the room could be further adapted for the needs of customers with disabilities, please let us know."
This guy, to me, is the best of what you get when you combine good training with the right attitude. He wasn't obsequious in his caring, he just seemed to be genuinely interested in getting it right. He wasn't cloying in his offers of concern, he presented himself as being willing to listen and learn. He wasn't patronizing or pitying in his tone, he spoke with simply friendliness.
I felt that I was special to him because I was a customer, not because I was a customer with a disability. This is remarkable because our interactions were about disability.
He raised the bar for me, I know have experienced the best in service.
And proved it possible.