Christopher Whitson

We make customers (and money) grow on trees!

Why a hotel manager fired a frequent guest

Firing a customer or client may just save your business...

You've heard this one:

  1. The customer is always right.
  2. If the customer is wrong, see #1

Well, we think it's the dumbest philosophy that any business would ascribe to adhere to. If you've been in business for more than a few months, you probably know that both 1 and 2 are dead wrong. We will admit that there are certain situations that business owners face where they have to suck it up and play the game, giving in to a difficult customer. But they should not be the only way to deal with difficult clients.

I was once a spectator to a situation at a hotel where we were working on increasing business guests and customer satisfaction. This hotel was part of a large portfolio of a chain that you have heard of that has a loyalty program of which you might have been a member of at some point. This hotel was not in the best part of town, but the staff was working hard to turn it around and took ownership in the successes and failures of the hotel.To improve guest satisfaction and bookings, the hotel had a guaranteed refund policy that if a guest was unhappy with any part of their stay, they would refund every cent of that nights stay, no questions asked.

A guest who had earned the highest loyalty level that could be had in the hotel brand had taken a #2 in his bed. The housekeeping manager had found it and reported it to management. The guest called the hotel later in the day after checking out and told the desk employee over the phone that his room was messy and he wanted his room rate refunded. He tried to make it seem like the hotel did not clean it's beds. It didn't take her long to realize that the "caca guy" and the man on the phone were one and the same. A manager quickly took over the call and explained to the guest that he would be glad to refund his money, but that he would never be able to stay at the hotel again. The guest became furious and threatened to file a complaint as a high-level loyalty member. The manager calmly told the guest to do whatever he thought was necessary, but that he was standing by his decision.

It took a lot of guts for this manager to do as he did. This guest was not a random guest. He was there almost every week. In his own embarrassment, he made a mistake in thinking that the hotel would just cower down into submission. But the hotel manager knew that his staff would not leave a bed with human feces in it. He earned a lot of respect from the hotel staff for that move. The guest also returned later that afternoon and formally apologized to the manager and the desk clerk for his behavior. The guest continued to stay at the hotel and a healthy business relationship continued.

This story is true. I was there. Will every customer that gets fired stay a customer? Of course not. But some of them will. And bad customers take up so much time and energy from you and your staff that more businesses should be firing more customers more often. The business world would be a much better place and so would your bottom line. So fire the bad customers that make you hate your job and allow a nice, fluffy, happy customer take their place!


EDITORS NOTE: Sorry for the poo references. We couldn't not tell this story...and we had to tell it accurately!

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