A while ago, I wrote about 8 ingenious styles of customer service that every business should know about, mostly because their employees have been inflicting them on unsuspecting customers.
For instance, I warned about “in your face customer service” and “run for cover customer service”, two equally effective opposites…like pouring too much sugar on your Shreddies one morning for breakfast, and dumping too much cayenne pepper on them the next morning.
I also warned about
- “consistent filibuster customer service”
- “Invisible Man customer service”
- “present-for-the-roll-call customer service”
- “customer service on steroids”
- “satirical customer service” (my own little invention)
Today I want to tell you about a 100% revolutionary approach to customer service that my wife and I discovered in a village high up in the mountains of Quebec a few years back. OK, several years back.
We were on our annual honeymoon several years ago, a three-day escape from parenthood to lick our wounds and give our tattered spirits a fighting chance to recuperate. That was when the kids were much smaller, like garden gnomes.
To tell the truth, the weekend was more like a marriage encounter. It gave me the chance to find out just who was that strange woman passing me in the hallway at full throttle, pinching her nose and radiating the sweet smell of mushy diapers as she whooshes past. And it gave her the chance to discover the even stranger man who would blow a muffled “Oof!” every time Little Lady invented a new “Hop On Pop” dance move.
Check-in at the fairly expensive Resort-on-the-Edge-of-Nowhere was 4:00 p.m., and it was made very clear that we would not be welcome until then. It’s always an ominous sign when a resort begins by warning you when you will not be welcome, so we arrived at 4:00 p.m..
At 6:30 we stopped by the front desk on the way to dinner to request an additional pillow. Being in a sleep-related establishment, we figured there was an off-chance that this request might be reasonable.
Wrong. The desk clerk could not provide a pillow because the laundry department closed at 4:00, and he had no way of accessing anything that was not right at the desk. So said he with a perfect painted on deadpan face.
“But we were not allowed to check in until 4:00 p.m.,” I protested.
At this point, Deadpan Clerk pulled from under the desk a box big enough to hold almost one quarter of a pillow, and started rummaging helpfully through it to see if he could find a pillow. He could not, he announced, his perfect painted on deadpan face as stoic as ever.
In the hospitality business, I reasoned, folks should know how to treat people hospitably. But if that were the case, I suppose I would never have written about Hotel Stella and the Wicked Witch of Lido or about the paper-thin walls in many hotels these days. OK, so the latter was largely fiction, a desperate search for an article topic, but the Hotel Stella torture story was 100% true.
Back at the fairly expensive Resort-on-the-Edge-of-Nowhere, Deadpan Clerk proceeded to assure us that we were not the only ones he mistreated. Phew, what a relief! In fact,he recounted how just a few minutes earlier a man had come looking for an iron for his wife (probably for his wife’s dress, as men rarely iron their wives, but Deadpan Clerk never clarified that).
He proudly related how he had explained to the man that irons were not available after 4:00 p.m., unless he had one in his magic little box.
“But we were not allowed to check in until 4:00 p.m.,” the man had protested.
He sent the man back to inform his wife that she will have to attend the dinner theatre in a dress looking like a prune (probably the dress, not the wife, but Deadpan Clerk never clarified that, either).
NOTE: Although no missing persons report has been filed with the local police, declassified CIA records reveal that the man was not seen again.
I should end this story on a happy note. But how? I escaped alive, along with the strange woman I pass every day in the hallway. It turned out she is my wife, go figure. And a most compassionate wife, too…she even helped Deadpan Clerk escape alive, too … at least until I return someday to the fairly expensive Resort-on-the-Edge-of-Nowhere.
Naw, that’s not very likely.
DISCLOSURE: Some events in this story are true. “Deadpan Clerk” is an assumed name to protect the somewhat living.