I received a frenzied call from a friend. Before I could ask what was going on, she had started recounting her horrible customer experience with an otherwise well reputed hotel in Rwanda. In short, my friend’s meltdown was caused by a hotel staff fibbing the estimated preparation time of an important lunch order, by well over an hour plus the run around that ensued.

The moment a client asks you how long their order will take, you can usually imply that they are on a time crunch. People on a time crunch are usually the least patient of all. Also, if the order placed is sizable, it is safe to assume that the person ordering is accountable for multiple hungry mouths. The point I am trying to make is simple; in one instance the white lie told by the hotel staff to the person ordering had spread to a larger number of people (the hungry mouths) in turn, seriously jeopardizing the trust relationship between the business and these clients.

A simple and better way to handle such situation is to use honesty with your customers. When asked for a time estimate on an order, the waiting staff should consult with the kitchen staff so that they can give an accurate answer. Additionally, one should not assume that a high preparation time will deter a customer from placing an order. Instead, an employee should confidently assume the customer will appreciate the honesty and be flexible enough to accept a given time estimate and plan accordingly. Honesty should be a pillar in the exchange between a business and its clients.

Following this incident, the fate of the relationship between this hotel and my friend lies in the realm of uncertainty. Lest they provide her with a sincere apology, she’ll be placing her sizable lunch orders elsewhere. TSM

marie-ange@theservicemag.com

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