Sunday, March 17, 2013

CEBI Exemplary Customer Service Award

The CEBI Exemplary Customer Service award goes to Suzanne Via, Area General Manager for Hyatt Place in North Carolina.

Every now and then, someone steps forward with impressive initiative, judgment and representation of a large company's brand. An extraordinary example of that happened last week in Charlotte, NC.

Pam and I were in a hotel in Charlotte, conducting a CEBI Leadership Workshop for business owners and senior managers. About 7:15 am the fire alarm went off. That's not something we haven't experienced in hotels before. What was different was that it not only didn't stop, but the hotel staff was knocking on doors, advising us to evacuate. Pulling on some clothes and picking up a couple of essential items, we went down a back fire exit. Coming around the side of the building, we got a front-row seat through a side exit door as 6 firefighters in full gear pulled open an electrical closet door and smoke billowed out.

Around the front of the building, guests were outside in the cold, many without jackets. The spectacle of 12 fire engines on the scene kept people from noticing the cold for awhile.  Noticing a Hyatt Place hotel next door, several of us went over to warm up in the lobby. That's where we met Suzanne. She had heard what happened, and her response was instinctive and perfect.

She welcomed all the refugees from next door to the Hyatt Place lobby, and announced "If you're from our neighboring hotel, we're putting out some coffee and some fruit that's complimentary. If you'd like to have breakfast with us, you can do that for $5.00". Just like that.

I'm pretty much guessing the operations manual didn't have a page for "hotel next door is on fire." Suzanne was empowered to do the right thing, and decided what that was on the fly. She bought a lot of brand equity that morning at the cost of a couple pots of coffee and some bananas. It got better. When Pam tried to pay for her breakfast, Suzanne said, "You just had oatmeal? Don't worry about it."

Hyatt Place is perhaps my favorite business travel brand. Their product is just right for the business traveler and their people are all top notch. Suzanne just took that impression to a new level.

Oh, yes, about the hotel fire. The Charlotte Fire Department located the overheating fan motor, extinguished the fire, and then made certain nothing else was involved. We were able to get back into our rooms, and started our workshop only 1 hour late. No one harmed and nothing damaged except the failed fan motor. Their performance was exemplary, as well, but what you would have expected, since the situation they were called for is what they train for every day.

Jim Collins talks about having the "right people on the bus." I hope that's the case for your company, as it is for Hyatt Place in North Carolina. 

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Terry Weaver

Chief Executive Boards International
Chief Executive Boards International: Freedom for business owners & CEOs -- Less Work, More Money, More Freedom to enjoy it

1 comment:

  1. Terry, what a great story of taking action in the moment. You didn't have to report this or publicize it, but this act of instant response deserves publication. It is also a good lesson for leaders - in the times of uncertainty (and today, there is a great deal of that going on) leaders must be flexible in what action plans they put in place and be extremely clear about what is going on, all while maintaining the purpose or mission of the organization. It sounds like Suzanne exemplified that exceptionally well.


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