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  • 05.25.05

And How to Win a Customer

A corollary to Keith’s ADT story: The other day I traveled to New York for a party celebrating our June issue on design, and because there were no hotels in the city (What’s up with that, New York?), I booked a room at the Crowne Plaza by the airport. I didn’t arrive until 11pm, at which point I learned that I didn’t have a room after all.

A corollary to Keith’s ADT story: The other day I traveled to New York for a party celebrating our June issue on design, and because there were no hotels in the city (What’s up with that, New York?), I booked a room at the Crowne Plaza by the airport. I didn’t arrive until 11pm, at which point I learned that I didn’t have a room after all. A big federal agency that had been staying at the hotel for weeks extended its stay at the last minute. I got the boot.

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Before I could protest — or start composing a letter to the CEO (Keith isn’t the only one with this hobby) — the front desk clerk told me she had already booked a complimentary room for me elsewhere. A car was waiting outside to take me. Since I would miss grabbing a late bite, she threw in a meal as well.

Now I wasn’t the least bit happy about getting bumped in the interest of a bigger customer and staying 15 miles farther from the airport and losing sleep after a long day, but I found myself surprisingly mollified. The staff acted genuinely apologetic, and they recovered quickly, satisfying both the feds and the little guy. As much as I wanted to be miffed at Crowne Plaza, I couldn’t help but be impressed: A travel nightmare became a positive experience — one I’ve been telling people about ever since. Talk about customer service paying off for a business. Where have you experienced this sort of service recovery? Or perhaps a failed attempt at recovering?

About the author

Chuck Salter is a senior editor at Fast Company and a longtime award-winning feature writer for the magazine. In addition to his print, online and video stories, he performs live reported narratives at various conferences, and he edited the Fast Company anthologies Breakthrough Leadership, Hacking Hollywood, and #Unplug.

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