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Superior customer service a necessary, achievable goal

As I See It

Several weeks ago, family business called me — unexpectedly — to the Northeast Mississippi city of Corinth. It was a sudden, throw together trip that we all make from time to time. I left Jackson assuming that we would stay in one of the motels near the intersection of Highways 45 and 72 and we did.

Before reaching Corinth, I started feeling awful , and so I asked my wife, Debra, to drive. Leaning the car seat back, I was asleep within a short time and didn’t wake up until we got to the Hampton Inn. After check-in, I resumed my sleep.

During my years in Mexico I had experienced similar viral attacks, and I knew that sleeping it off is an effective, and probably the only, remedy.

So much for my illness.

The next day housekeeping knocked on our door around midmorning. I explained that we would like to stay in the room until around noon and the housekeeper assured me that would be no problem.

And, she smiled while she was saying it. Nice touch.

Late in the afternoon of our second day, we decided that we had done what we came to do and would leave that night. I went to the front desk to checkout. The desk clerk asked me in an apologetic tone if I realized that she would have to charge us for the night since it was hours past the posted time for checkout.

I felt like reassuring her that I understood and it really wasn’t her fault. While the credit card process was underway, she asked me in a polite, and obviously concerned, voice if there was any problem. Once again, I felt the need to reassure her that everything was OK, and that we were merely leaving sooner than expected.

The lobby area adjoins a small dining room where light breakfast fare is available for guests. I noticed that the steel coffee urns were on and thought how good it would be to have some coffee to take with us on our drive back to Jackson. I asked the clerk if the coffee was reasonably fresh and she said no but she would be glad to make a fresh pot.

After we loaded our luggage, Debra and I went back into the dining area and got some fresh coffee. Our helpful clerk then took the pot into the kitchen and put it on a hot plate to keep it warm for us. She invited us to take as much as we wanted for our trip and bid us farewell as we headed for the car.

Now, that’s what I call experiencing first-rate customer service.

From the housekeeper to the desk clerk, everybody went the extra mile to make us feel special. I don’t know who owns the Corinth Hampton Inn or who trains their people but my hat’s off to them. They have achieved the level of customer service that every business should vigorously pursue.

If managers can find a way to inspire their employees to treat their customers as if they were the most important people in the world, profits and overall quality of life would go through the ceiling.

The treatment I experienced in Corinth is not the result of fancy mission statements or even incentive compensation packages. It is the result of a caring management inspiring their employees to treat customers like they are guests in your home.

There’s a lesson there for all of us.

Thought for the Moment — Before I was married I had three theories about raising children. Now I have three children and no theories.

— John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester (1647-1680)

Joe D. Jones, CPA, is publisher of the Mississippi Business Journal. Contact him at cpajones@msbusiness.com.


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