Question (Almost) Everything

In case you weren’t sure, the customer is always right.

The problem with that statement is that they are NOT always right, so in a world of customer service, the goal is to gently lead them towards being less wrong.

My least favorite question these days, in all honesty, is “Why is that?” No matter how it’s phrased, and almost regardless of the inflection, it allows the customer to question authority. Very rarely will a customer ask that with innocence, and 98% of the time it will put both parties on the defensive.

On infrequent occasion, a customer will be bantering along with me about some aspect of booking a room (usually for a party), and they’ll ask to do something outside our guidelines. Perhaps they’d like to have their party in our courtyard or out on the lawn. We have our reasons for only hosting parties indoors (it’s got a lot to do with being a city-owned property), but they will innocently ask: “Oh, why is that?”

It’s that tiny “oh” portion of the statement, said along with the flow of conversation, that makes things less venomous and less irritating. It’s more of an errant hair in the eye than a grain of sand. This statement can be brushed away quickly without scarring the conversation. These people genuinely want to know why we don’t do something, instead of wanting to know why we can’t make an ALLOWANCE for something.

Still, I’d rather them ask the question in a sincerely nice tone of voice (no hidden agendas, please), and then have them accept my answers, which are for the most part gladly given. I do truly enjoy helping people when they are willing to accept help. These aren’t made-up answers to get a sale; there is no commission in it for me. Technically I’m not even a salesperson.

It makes you wonder if these same folks question everyone in the same way. Why can’t they have a double dose of their regular prescription at the same price? Why can’t their auto insurance be free for six months instead of three months? Why can’t they apply the seasonal sale price to something that’s not on sale? Why can’t they just pay their rent retroactively instead of proactively?

You asked, we answered.

I do try to be patient with everyone though, because that’s how you build solid relationships – you never know what connections can come in handy down the road. No matter how frustrating someone’s accent is or how many times they ask the same question, if you’re nice, there’s a better chance of them being A) nice to you and B) getting some sweet referrals.

Unfortunately there’s always option C – they turn into a complete beast, but we try not to think about that. Have a nice day!

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