‘ARE WE NEARLY THERE YET??’……..A lesson in the beauty of wonderful customer service
‘Are we nearly there yet??’
Sound familiar?! Then you might also recognise this scenario …
A well-worn family car is on the road, and just about to join the motorway on the slip road. It should have been cleaned a few weeks ago but more important things needed doing. There are family bikes attached to the roof of the car, which make a slight whistling noise as the air passes them at speed. The car boot is full to the brim with bags of clothes, emergency soft toys and boots for all weather as it’s Autumn time and the weather is unpredictable. The bags were packed in the early hours that morning. In the back of the car sit 3 children who refuse to stop growing, and as a consequence the room is a little tight back there. Oh, how easy it is to wind your sibling up by moving your foot just over the invisible, yet fiercely protected territorial line that was drawn up at the start of the trip. No one remembered to bring the cosy blanket so an argument starts about the air conditioning. ((Did I remember to water the tomato plants before we set off??))
In the front sit 2 tired (and quickly greying) parents, longing for a relaxing and rejuvenating holiday to recharge the batteries. Only 3 more hours to survive before paradise is reached. The driver concentrates on joining the car safely onto the motorway. The passenger in the front turns round to try and dampen rising tempers. Food seems to be the only way out. No one is tempted by the healthy snack box of cut-up carrots, cucumber and apple. Only the mighty biscuit can hold their attention for any length of time. What was left in the fridge at home was brought on the trip, but there’s not enough for a constant 3-hour feasting at 120km/hr. Those biscuits are going to need careful rationing.
Exactly half an hour down the road and the biscuits are all gone. It starts to rain heavily. That means at least 20 minutes added to the trip, if it continues. And the constant thud-thud-thud of the windscreen wipers adds to the tension already brewing up again on the back seat. The audiobook, apparently, is too babyish for one, too loud for another but just right for the other one. Then the pinching starts. Was it just a dream or did they really used to fall asleep 10 minutes in to any car journey?!
Take a deep breath. Just think of Paradise at the end of this road……..’Get off, that’s my space’……………’tis not’…..’TIS’ etc. etc. etc…..
Today it’s our turn to experience what most parents have been through. The final exhausted push before the holiday can begin. You find us on our way to our holiday destination in Mecklenburg Vorpommern, a beautiful national park area of Germany just west of Berlin and famous for its lakes and outdoor activities. We are booked into a hotel which caters especially for families and which promises parents the freedom (from the kids!), enjoying the outdoors, relaxation and all the cake we can eat for a week. And all the while the kids have the time of their lives. Paradise. Yes, it’s a bit of an extravagance but we feel we all need and deserve it.
We do eventually arrive in one piece. Though perhaps with a few more grey hairs. And somewhat shredded nerves. It’s been a long day.
The rain has thankfully stopped. We check in at the welcoming office which has cosy curtains and a cheery lady who magically seems to know all about us (even names of the kids). We then unload the car, the last demanding thing we are going to have to do all week, and get into our room. Everything looks perfect. There’s a welcome note, some colouring-in pictures for the kids and a couple of chocolates each for the parents. We set to work. All the bags are emptied, 5 lots of clothes put on the various shelves in the various wardrobes, 5 lots of pyjamas and various cuddly toys placed on the right beds. The kids were already no-where to be seen, having quickly taken a quick look around the room, jumped on the beds and then zoomed off to investigate the amazing climbing frames and discovering what the Kid’s Club hat to offer.
I could get used to the quiet, I confess to myself. I’ve heard that there’s a roaring fire in the cosy hotel lounge and it calling our names. It’s time for the relaxation to begin…..
Just then there is a knock on the door. The smiley lady from the office is there, still smiling but in a slightly stiffer and apologetic sort of way. Apparently, there’s been a mix-up in the office with the keys and we have been shown to the wrong room.
The real occupants of this room will be here any minute and we had to move out. I looked around. Everything is unpacked (and the toilet has already been used!). My heart sinks. Not only will I have to pack, then unpack everything again for the second time today, but we’re going to have to carry all the bags up a further 2 flight of stairs to our proper room.
It had already been a long day and in my mind all the uphill struggle to get here was supposed to be over by now. So, despite the apologies, a little grey cloud was starting to form above me. It was like someone had just moved the carrot with no warning, or had put my chocolate on the radiator and I was watching it melt in front of my eyes.
But then something unexpected happened. At the door appeared what can only be described as an army of hotel staff, keen to help us with our predicament. Within seconds the bags were re-packed and taken to our new room. The beds were remade, the bathroom cleaned. And it was all done in great humour, as if they had been expecting to move house all day long! Nothing was too much trouble. My little grey cloud blew away, and in fact the sunshine returned!
Yes, I did have to unpack everything again, but I somehow didn’t mind as much. Our personal task force had understood the inconvenience it had caused us and they had done everything in their power to make things right.
And I’m glad to report that after that we did, indeed, have a wonderfully relaxing and enjoyable holiday. Would we consider going again? Definitely, despite the (fairly major) hiccup on their part.
So, what have I taken from this little episode that will help me with my face painting business (other than to always pack more biscuits than I think are strictly necessary)? I think that the message is simple: We are all human and humans make mistakes from time to time, despite the best intentions and preparations. But what makes a difference is how you own up to and respond to your oversights. As a small business owner my customers are the most important thing and without them, I have no business. My customer service has to be top-notch in the good times and (especially) the bad.