They beat me into submission, a customer success failure.

I travel a lot and spend many a night in hotels.  Many times I don’t have a choice of the brand of hotels I stay in, many times I do.  When I do have a choice, one of my go to brands is Hilton, at least it was.

Last month Kathy and I had to travel to the Cincinnati area for the funeral of her uncle.  While it was a sad affair, it was good to get together with family, some of whom we haven’t seen in quite some time.  As you can imagine, there were coordination emails and texts flying around, it was hard to keep track.   When the dust settled, everyone was staying at a Hampton Inn in Mason Ohio near where the funeral was.  I went to the Hilton Honors website, found A Hampton Inn in Mason, Ohio. It was the wrong Hampton Inn, about 10 miles away.

WRONG Hotel – Hampton Inn Cincinnati-Kings Island (5323 Beach Blvd., Mason, OH 45040)
RIGHT Hotel – Hampton Inn & Suites Cincinnati-Mason (5232 Bardes Road, Mason, OH 45040)

When we met up with our group and figured out our mistake, I went to the front desk of the right Hampton Inn and asked to have them switch our reservation to that hotel.  Oh, not so fast!  Our reservation cancellation window had passed, and the wrong hotel, which is a franchise, wouldn’t release our reservation.  Preposterous!  I had made my reservation with Hilton, not some franchise.  Anyway, I didn’t have time to argue and would deal with it later.  During a break in the services I called the Hilton Honors reservation line and got a very nice woman who, while sympathetic to my situation, couldn’t help me.  I asked for a supervisor and got another very nice woman who when pressed called the wrong hotel and got them to release the reservation and make me a new reservation at the right hotel.  Problem solved; it pays to be nice, or so I thought.  While she made the new reservation at the right hotel, I never got a cancellation from the wrong hotel.

A few days later I noticed on my credit card statement that I was billed for both hotels.  I called Hilton Honors, AGAIN, and this time just asked for a supervisor.  AGAIN, a very nice woman assisted me, apologized for the issue and told me she would take care of it.  I should notice a credit on my credit card in a couple of weeks.  Instead I got an email stating that they were sorry but could not resolve my issue.  Back to Hilton Honors customer service: AGAIN, I asked for a supervisor and AGAIN, a very nice woman sympathized with my situation and said she would help.  She said the franchise operator from the wrong hotel would call me, and if I couldn’t work it out with them then I should submit a copy of my credit card statement to Hilton Honors and they would issue me a credit.  Spoiler alert: no one ever called!  I had spent a several hours and much frustration to get a $100 credit.  They have beat me into submission; they can keep the $100. But at what cost?

I talk a lot about Customer Success which is achieved when the customer achieves their desired outcome.  [Read here for a recent blog describing Customer Success].  In this case, they burned much of the trust and goodwill that they have built up with me over the years.  It is not to say that I will never stay at a Hilton property again, but they dropped a notch on my hotel pecking list.

Something to think about the next time you have to deal with a customer issue (or should I say opportunity?).