So I was driving home yesterday from Tulsa, two hands on the wheel at 10 & 2, eyes straight ahead when I got a hankerin' for some of that Cheesecake Factory cheesecake that we had ordered to go. Nathan gets it out and prepares me a bite. As he fed it to me, he missed all of my mouth and got some on my chin. Of course he did not want it to fall into my lap so he rushed the container over to catch the dangling crumb - only to shove the big glob of whip cream all over my chin. We were in fine form on that drive home!
Now Nathan and I were not originally supposed to be in Oklahoma yesterday. We had plans to go to Hot Springs for the holiday weekend. We had reservations at the old hotel there - The Arlington - and were going to visit a spa for some pampering. Unfortunately, the spa we wanted to go to was booked up. So we decided to cancel our hotel and go another time. When I called to cancel the reservation, I was informed that they had a 48-hour cancellation policy and I was out of luck. Needless to say I was not happy with their response. I asked to speak with Customer Service. I said that I did not recall anyone mentioning the 48-hour policy. She asked if I had received my confirmation letter, which I did not. Of course, their records showed that they had sent it. Long story short, I expressed my dissatisfaction with this policy and they still only refunded half of our money. By this point we had no desire to ever visit this hotel or anything having to do with it. There was no way we were going to reschedule.
As I reflect on my poor experience with The Arlington, I am reminded of my undergrad classes where we talked about negative WOM. For every negative experience someone has with your brand, they will tell something like 5 people. As the old saying goes, "The Customer is Always Right", even when they're wrong. I was amazed that The Arlington would accept the word of their employee over my own so blatantly. But then I wondered how many customers lie or are plagued by the entitlement epidemic that has spread throughout my generation. I read a recent article in the Wall Street Journal that blames Mr. Rogers for the narcissism of the new generations. Now, Mr. Rogers is not specifically to blame - but the ideas of Mr. Rogers, the "you're special" mantra that so many parents chanted for their children. In recent years, children no longer win ribbons for actually winning but for just participating in order to not hurt their self-esteem. Everyone is special. Everyone deserves to win. But that's not reality. The truth is that we are not entitled to an easy life, to having things your way. This will be a struggle for customer service professionals to remain loyal to their customers yet do what is best for their business. In my case, I still do not believe that canceling my reservation would actually have hurt this massive hotel and I know that I never received my letter; however, there are many people who would lie in order to get what they want.
Brief Conclusion: We would have gone to The Arlington some other time, but now we will never visit them, nor will our friends and possibly any of my readers. But this policy-loyal customer service could become the trend as entitlement-plagued generations grow up and demand a new, possibly unjustified level of customer service. Just a thought!