“Satisfaction Guarantee” is a term that I hear thrown around a lot these days. My interpretation of that phrase is that if I’m not satisfied with any aspect of the service or product I receive, I’m entitled to a full refund. That seems like a pretty bold statement, doesn’t it? What business in their right mind would allow a customer to get a refund for any reason? Seems to me like they wouldn’t make any money that way, but yet we still see these guarantees all the time.
Sometimes you’ll see giant signs posted in the hallway(like to the side) offering satisfaction guarantees but other times these guarantees aren’t as obvious. Now that I’m an expert traveler(4 trips in 1.5 months!), I’ve had a lot of recent interactions with customer service agents, hotel staff and even telephone reps. Nearly everyone I’ve talked to over the past couple months was insightful, caring and wanted to help, but there were still a few bad apples out there that made me think twice about whether I should do business with them again.
Putting the Right People in the Right Spot
Not everyone is made to work in customer service. Generally, you should put your most outgoing, passionate, and considerate employees in customer service since they’ll be having a lot of interaction with customers. That seems like common sense, but customer service is usually a low paying, un-rewarding job. It doesn’t tend to exactly attract the top talent around and that’s why you’ll rarely find what you want in a customer service rep.
My Unsatisfactory Stay with Hilton
On a recent trip to New York, we stayed in Albany for one night at the Hilton Garden Inn. I picked this hotel because it was close to our appointment the next morning and so I could finally use my Hitlon Gold card. I hit Hilton Gold status last year but haven’t stayed at a Hilton since. The benefits aren’t great, but the big one is the ability to get a free room upgrade should there be availability.
I figured the upgrade was all but guaranteed since this was a Sunday evening in Albany, NY in March. Not really your typical spring break destination 🙂 But when we got there, the girl at the front desk had already printed out my room key and when I asked her about a suite upgrade she cavalierly brushed me off. I wasn’t really in the mood to argue in front of my fiancee, so I took her word for it and we headed up to our room. The room was a decent size but very average in every aspect, not really what I was expecting for $150.
After I unpacked, I decided to check online if a suite was available and sure enough there were multiple suites available. I went down to the front desk and asked about this. Apparently, there was a computer glitch and that’s why I wasn’t given the upgrade, yea right. Instead of owning up to their mistake, they decided to blame the computer instead of using their brains and realizing that the hotel was probably at 50% capacity on a Sunday night in the middle of the winter. I ended up getting the upgrade and the rest of my stay was awesome but that initial experience definitely left a sour taste in my mouth.
Are They Really Going to Give Me a Refund?
When we got back to San Diego, I decided to look into the Hilton Garden Inn Satisfaction Promise since frankly I wasn’t very satisfied. I searched high and low but to no avail, there was no form or e-mail contact about the “Satisfaction Promise” on their website. I decided to try them via Twitter and they actually responded within an hour saying they had located my reservation and wanted to know more about what happend.
Long story short, I e-mailed them what happened and after just a couple e-mails back and forth they told me they would be refunding my stay. WOW, I couldn’t believe it. Apparently, their satisfaction guarantee is real. They make it a little bit difficult to actually get in contact with someone about it, but once I did, they were very prompt and efficient dealing with my concerns.
I honestly don’t know if this one experience would have been enough to set me off Hilton forever. After my initial snafu, I actually really enjoyed staying there. Even though I thought the room was a little overpriced, it was pretty comparable to others of similar quality in the area. All in all, I would say their satisfaction guarantee probably worked in this case, since it left me with a good impression and I’d definitely be willing to give them another shot.
I think most of the companies that offer satisfaction guarantees do it more for the re-assurance it provides. They count on the fact that most people won’t actually take them up on the offer unless they truly have a horrible experience.
Readers, what other satisfaction guarantees have you encountered out there? Do you think it’s ok to take advantage of these offers or would you only do it if you truly felt wronged?
-Harry @ PF Pro
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