Saturday, November 19, 2011

The (second?) greatest customer service story ever told, starring the Hilton Anatole.

If you read blogs and/or hang out on Twitter, you likely heard or read about Peter Shankman's delightful encounter with Morton's Steakhouse, which he dubbed the "greatest customer service story ever told." No question, that is one outstanding example of customer service. However, after that story went public, there were a lot of questions swirling as to whether Morton's offered that level of service because of Mr. Shankman's relative fame, in hopes that he would share the story online with his many fans and followers. Though I can't vouch for Morton's (besides noting that they have delicious food), I truly believe that some people and companies are just devoted to providing stellar customer service, whether said recipient is famous or not. I'm living proof: take what happened to me last week. 

I was in Dallas attending the NMHC Apartment Operations and Technology Conference & Exposition (aka OpTech) at the Hilton Anatole. During the very last session, suddenly the power went out. After determining that the outage had affected a large portion of the city, the conference organizers urged anyone who needed to make their way out as soon as possible, as there would likely be back-ups at the emergency elevators for those who needed to return to their rooms before departing for the airport. I immediately stood up and began walking towards the elevators, hoping I'd be able to beat the rush.

A small group of conference attendees was soon gathered at the elevator banks. One of the Hilton's conference managers, Hal, was standing at the elevator and suggested that we all start walking up the stairs, as there was no indication of when the emergency elevators would be operational. My room was located on the eighteenth floor, and when I expressed  concern about carrying my suitcase down eighteen flights of stairs, he said, “No problem, I’ll come with you and carry it down.” 

We went to my hotel room, which was pitch black, and Hal gave me a glow stick so that I could finish packing my belongings. He waited very patiently while I attempted to search the room and assured me that the hotel would be glad to send anything that I'd inadvertently left behind. We then walked down eighteen flights of stairs, while Hal smiled and chatted, and told me about some of the other power outages he'd witnessed during his career. He carried my suitcase through back entrances, all the way to the taxi stand, and gently placed my suitcase on the curb. I am certain that Hal had much more pressing things to attend to, but you'd never have known it from his behavior: he made my little request seem like a major priority that deserved immediate attention.

I was so wowed by Hal's kindness and exemplary service that I honestly could do nothing except hug him and thank him profusely. (I never carry cash; otherwise, I would have given Hal a huge tip on the spot.) Instead, I promised I'd write a letter to his General Manager, and then left for the airport, utterly aglow with thankfulness.

The next day, I wrote a letter to the Anatole's GM, as promised...and then I emailed Hilton's Senior Vice President of Operations to share the above story. (Isn't it amazing what a quick Google search can do?) Within just a few hours, he emailed me the below.

Sara, first of all I am sorry that you had to deal with the power outage while at the Anatole.  That said I am thrilled to read your comments on how Hal handled the situation and put your situation in front of any other issue he had which is the absolute way it should be!  I will be in Dallas next week and will make sure I personally thank Hal!  I appreciate you taking the time to let us know and look forward to welcoming you back at the Anatole and/or any of our Hiltons around the globe!

Wow. When senior management and on-site management share the same philosophy, some serious greatness occurs.