Don’t let arrogance destroy your business

It’s really hard to become the best at what you do. It requires you to have vision, clarity, focus and discipline. It can take years to become number one and a lot of work and innovation too but above all, it takes humility and humbleness, so you recognize that you will never be at an absolute stage of perfection and that you understand that no matter how successful you are that will never give you the right to abuse and be arrogant to others.

It’s a shame that this is precisely what the staff at a certain hotel located in the high end tourist section of Polanco in Mexico City seemed to have forgotten. What used to be the most modern, innovative and chicest hotel in the City (which name, although I will not mention, is composed of just one of the last 5 letters of the alphabet), far from continuing to create “WOW” experiences just like they do in their other sites around the world, seem to prefer a path of auto compliance rather than one of service and attention to customers.
And why do I say this? Here is the story: because of its modern environment, its cool hip image and so called hospitality, this hotel is often chosen by a lot of companies to host their events and my team was not the exception, so we chose to host a series of training seminars for our strategic partners in this hotel.
We ask for a quote for approximately 20, two days events through out 2008.
To the initial cost that was presented, they added some other concepts which summed with all the incidental costs we had during the first seminar in early February, increased our original budget per seminar a lot. However, with the full intention of holding all our seminars in this location we scheduled a meeting with their Marketing and Sales director, meeting that in the end showed a lot of promise. Both parts left with clearly set expectations: they would included some services that would be more relevant to their business and we would get a budget that better suited our needs, and all these would be put in writing to cover all but the next two immediate events that would take place in February 25 and 26 and March 4 & 5.
“What a productive meeting we had” I shared with the team that is helping us plan and coordinate the logistics for the seminars.

But how surprised I was when, the next morning, I saw their revised proposal that showed prices well above what we had agreed in the meeting just the day before!
We talked to them and ask for a revision of their document, which they did. Taking concepts off but leaving the final price as it was, that is.

Now, since the second seminar was just around the corner, we decided to stick to the plan and host the new seminar there. This time at least we would not be taken by surprise by the incremental costs. But surprised we were yet again!
First we were forced to start 40 minutes late because the folks at the hotel’s valet parking did not have enough staff to park the cars of all the people that arrived not only for our seminar but for other companies events that were taking place at the same time. The second bad signal was that in this great luxury hotel, the elevators had a glitch so in order to get to the second floor, you had to take the stairs to the first floor, there call the elevator, get in, go down to the lobby, stay in the elevator and go up to the third floor, get off and take the stairs one level down. “And why didn’t you take the stairs all the way to the second floor in the first place?” you may be asking. Well, simple, there were no signs to let you know where the stairs to the second floor were.
Third bitter mouthful? There was a short with the AV equipment so every time you needed to use it you would get shocked!!! And as if this wasn’t enough after the seminar was over, the hotel charged the whole thing to a personal credit card of one member of our staff even when we told them we were going to pay with another method, and all the answer we got from them was: “well… next time”.

But all this was not what provoked the bubble to burst. Turns out that after we had told them all the seminar we would have with them in 2008, that we had already given 2 seminars and that we had been negotiating for the rest of the year, when we needed to postpone, not cancel, just change the dates of the march 4th seminar to a later date during the third week of march, they told us that we could choose a new date but that these seminar would count as a cancellation and they would charge us 100% of the cost, even when we told them with enough days of anticipation!!!.

Can you believe it? Can you see how arrogant their answer was and how that attitude can destroy even the most successful business?

If they pull this type of stuff on a B2B relationship, I would hate to see how they treat their individual clients!
And yeap, you guessed it, I’m taking my business somewhere else, somewhere where they appreciate the value of service, humbleness and establishing long term productive, profitable business relationships.

Now just an example of a business that manages its success with humbleness: it’s a coffee shop located in Francisco Sosa street in Coyoacan in the south side of Mexico City, called La Puase, a place with a great homey and warm environment that offers great food and coffee. These guys really get it, not only do they always give excellent service and superb food, but they are always looking for way to create WOW experiences, like the one they provided for my wife and I just a few days ago while we were having a cup of their delicious coffee and a slice of their magnificent chocolate cake as we waited for the time to visit our doctor to decide whether or not to drive to the hospital to give birth to our baby daughter. So there we were the soon to be parents having a great time when one of the waiters asked us in a very friendly manner when our baby was due. “might be today” we said. A few moments later, he return to our table, this time along with the owner of the shop, and gave us a free extra cake to celebrate our happiest day.
He didn’t have to do anything, they were already delivering an excellent service, the place was swamped, they were really busy, yet he decided to have a nice gesture and he was absolutely backed up by his boss. Why? Because they get it!

Maybe the folks from the aforementioned hotel should come down to La Pause and have a lesson on excellent service and humbleness, don’t you think?

Note: this post represents my personal opinion as a blogger and professional in marketing communications, it does not represent the opinion of my employer in any way.

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An important note.

The comments, opinions and recommendations posted in this personal blog are my personal thoughts, and doesn't necesarily reflect those of my employer.