By David Rose

Many years ago, I needed car insurance. Like anyone else I sought out the best coverage and rates available. There was an Insurance Agency in the shopping center down the street from where I lived and I thought it would be easy to go where I could sign up quickly and get the coverage I needed. Convenience.

As I look back now, it’s been nearly 20 years and it occurred to me that I’ve never met the person whose name is on the building. So, the real question is why have I stayed with this Insurance Agency? Convenience?

Recently, I wanted to make a slight change. All paperwork was completed through email exchanges with one of her support team members. I was assured everything was taken care of, until it wasn’t a month later. It was a minor, administrative issue, that could have been addressed and corrected in literally, minutes. It wasn’t. After leaving 2 unanswered voice messages in a week, I was ready to find new coverage elsewhere.

I decided I would make one final attempt to reach the person I had left 2 previous messages for. Of course, that person was not available.

And then, something not so remarkable – and yet very memorable at the same time – happened.

The team member offered to assist me. Not later. Not at some other distant time. No, she offered to help me right then and there.

Within 2 minutes, she emailed the paperwork to me and she stayed on the phone to ensure I received it. She reviewed my file, and verified my information. The entire exchange took less than 5 minutes, and by the next day, everything was correct.

She had no idea how close I was to finding another Agent. She did her job well, and made me feel valued. Great service can make all of the difference.

In the hospitality and service business, the object is to provide a great experience. At the same time, it is a business and the leader in charge is responsible for making sure that the business is profitable. So, it becomes very challenging when you have an unhappy customer since that unhappy customer (or guest) can truly affect your business.

Typically, leaders are trained to do everything that is possible to remedy a negative experience in an effort to ensure that the person walks away from the experience feeling comforted. We’ve all heard of – or experienced firsthand – an adult temper tantrum in public. The laughable yet scary videos that riddle You Tube and our Facebook streams not only display ridiculous behavior, but horrible examples for others that are easily impressionable.

What happens when an unhappy guest is not so vocal?

Consider the vast number of people that don’t like to complain about a poor service experience. If they are not vocal, yet still dissatisfied, they won’t be back. But that’s not all. The silent critics don’t stay silent when they leave an establishment. The silent critics won’t hesitate to spread the negative word. Today, it’s more than sharing a poor experience with your family or friends. Today, it’s sharing a poor experience with the world.

Never underestimate the value of any interaction. While it may be just another transaction for you, it could be a defining experience for the person with whom you are speaking.