Be The Hero

By your host, J. Jeff Kober

Let’s look at how to be the hero through a service recovery situation with the front desk at Disney’s Hollywood Hotel.

I recently visited Hong Kong Disneyland. My stay was brief. While I took a half day to see some key places in Hong Kong, my real objective was to visit Hong Kong Disneyland for the first time. Because of that, I chose to stay at Disney’s Hollywood Hotel, rather than in Hong Kong itself.

The Hollywood Hotel has a beautiful art deco style to it. Photo by J. Jeff Kober
The Hollywood Hotel has a beautiful art deco style to it. Photo by J. Jeff Kober

I enjoyed the park, and found it offered much more than many reports suggested. But what really surprised me was the hotel itself. It really offered a wonderful resort stay itself. The quality of the facilities were top notch. Amenities were plentiful, and service was great. It was kind of strange to see the Hollywood theme play out among the mountains and jungles of Hong Kong, but the art deco style played out really well. One could have easily spent the day simply enjoying the hotel itself.

The hotel grounds are grand and lush, to include this unique sign. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
The hotel grounds are grand and lush, to include this unique sign. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Again, my stay was quite nice, but was woefully short. On the morning of the third day I was on my way to the airport when I realized that I never saw a portfolio of my stay, nor was one slipped under the door. I decided I would stop at the front desk on my way out to settle my charges. It was early in the morning, but time was tight as I needed to get to my flight in time. The front desk attendant gathered together my portfolio, and then in her best English tried to walk me through the charges. It was then for the first time I realized I was being charged for three nights, not two. It was confusing–why didn’t the front desk inform me that I was a day late checking in? And yet, as I pulled out my laptop and took a look at my online reservation, it was my fault. I had originally considered a three night stay when I made the reservation. But I never changed the reservation.

The front desk offers a beautiful mural depicting Hollywood's architectural icons. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
The front desk offers a beautiful mural depicting Hollywood’s architectural icons. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

The verbal communication between both of us wasn’t perfect, but she could easily read my face, and after checking the documentation with an associate, she went off to get her supervisor, Romeo. Romeo took a look at everything, and inquired as to what I understood. I confessed that I had been the one to make a mistake, and that I did not see that mistake until just now. I don’t know if I was more upset in the moment that I had to pay for an additional night that I hadn’t used, or that I wouldn’t get to use the additional night I had payed for.

Never matter. Romeo resolved the charges. He noted that the three nights actually created a slight discount, but that if I would pay for what the standard rate for the two nights, they would remove the third night. I was elated–more than excited. He said it would take a few more minutes to fix the paperwork and asked about my flight. When I told him how soon it was, he put everyone in motion. Bell services whisked my luggage away and grabbed a taxi to take me to the airport. When he was done, he gave me a button thanking me for my stay, took me in hand to the porte cochere, spoke to the taxi driver in Cantonese, and then waved me good by closing the door himself to my taxi. I don’t know what he said to the taxi driver, but I’ve never seen a taxi move so fast to the airport. I think we set some record.

What Romeo and his team did was become the hero. In service recovery, when the problem is severe, and when it’s the fault of the customer–not the company, it’s a golden opportunity to become a hero. The front desk team did just that–and the result is a form of customer loyalty you can’t achieve by simply having great standard service. When someone becomes the hero to your difficulty,  you want to tell the world how fantastic they are. So here I am. I would probably never had that experience if I had stayed at a standard hotel in Hong Kong. I am so grateful for them responding respectfully and cordially to me. And I promise that next time I will not only stay at Disney’s Hollywood Resort, but I will stay not two, but at least three nights.

That’s what great companies do to provide exemplary customer service. And even from one of Disney’s most remote locations, it happens even there. Here’s to great customer service–and to the heroes that make it so–worldwide.

If you want to know more about providing this kind of service recovery, you’ll want to obtain a copy of The Wonderful World of Customer Service at Disney. It’s now available on Kindle through Theme Park Press as well as in print through Amazon.

Stay Open After You Close
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J. Jeff Kober

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