I just returned from a wonderful annual conference of the Customer Experience Professionals Association at the Biltmore Waldorf Astoria, a Hilton property in Phoenix. The hotel, its service, and staff were well prepared- they know how to delight the customer, sometimes with surprises. For example, I walked into the Spa and was immediately greeted by two charming staff members who stood up to greet me upon entry. “Standing to greet me,” I thought “was so much part of the Eastern culture.” They assured me they were well trained to demonstrate respect for their clients. I was impressed.
The rest of my stay mirrored this charming encounter. The service was excellent. The staff is courteous and helpful. The appointments created a nice ambiance, and the lawns were ripe for our morning yoga routines in the early morning sun.
If I had been asked to provide feedback at check-out, I would have been a promoter on the NPS metric. They did not ask. I would typically leave the hotel without going to the front desk. But on this occasion, I did and picked up my receipt for my stay. A whopping, but expected, $993.00!
Biltmore Guest Receipt
I was reviewing my bank charges and found that the Biltmore charged my credit card for $1199.97.
Biltmore charges on my card reflected in my bank account
The difference in my bill did not make any sense? There was a discrepancy and thinking that this had to be a mistake I called the hotel and could only leave a message for accounting to get back to me. Impatient to wait 24 hours I called the front desk and asked for clarification. I was told that my actual charge was $993.68 but that the additional amount was authorized upon registering as a guest, ostensibly to reduce their risk. Fair enough. So, I asked that they correct the difference immediately by returning the money to my account. “No,” she said, “this was not possible because the process to correct this will take 3 to 5 business days.”
I thought this was rather strange and decidedly unfair. They took more money than they should have and would not return it as quickly as they took it. I explained that they were effectively using my money until the reconciliation occurred on their time. I insisted that this was unacceptable and all I got repeatedly was that this was the company policy. She insisted that all she was doing was following company policy. She also asserted that she was low on the totem pole and could not do anything. I explained to her that this was exactly what I had just written about in my recent eBook in which I make the case of extinguishing policies (Moose) that are outdated and useless. She was determined- it was company policy!
I am now a borderline promoter but one with much disenchantment. If I go there for another visit, I will insist that they not authorize more than what my actual bill would be. It seems that as a customer I have to ‘identify their Moose’ and hope that my story would crawl up the system.
But then there is policy.
And then there is also the creation of a borderline promoter at best.
The Point: Even a company like Hilton that enjoys a reputation for delivering exemplary experiences has to look closely at its outdated and useless policies. Companies have to be relentless in ensuring that even the little things are on the radar at all times.
Have you confronted any Moose in your day-to-day interactions with businesses today? Share in the comments below!