CSI Factor: Episode 2

Once upon a time, I vowed to write about my various customer service experiences under the guise of the "CSI Factor" and relate them to the Real Estate industry. We frequently migrate to my husband's homeland (Oklahoma; boomer!) to see family. This weekend, we are in Oklahoma and I've had two experiences with Marriott:

Experience One:
I called some time back to make a reservation at Marriott because the website wasn't working properly. I am typically anti-phone (much to my husband's irritation) and prefer to do things in person unless it's a hotel or car which I'll do online. During this call, the very friendly older male operator was answering all of my questions thoroughly and found a great deal on a suite for us. He reiterated all of the preferences I had described to him and gave me my confirmation number three times. I was already in a hurry (just my personality) and was fine with this thoroughness because I was multi-tasking and missed half of what he said (but I caught the witty remark about the spelling of my name).

I did become annoyed when he moved from natural booking conversation to scripted offers- "will you be flying or driving?" and then "would you like me to suggest an airline or connect you with our preferred airline?" NO. "Would you like to know about entertainment in the area you will be staying?" NO THANKS. "Lastly, would you like to be a Marriott member." NO THANKS. "You can earn great savings and if you use the card X amount of times you can earn free nights." NO THANKS. "You can start with this weekend's stay and go from there, how does that sound?" NO THANKS. "Okay then, your confirmation number again is..." I finally had to step out of my friendly zone and say "you've been very helpful, thank you and goodbye" CLICK.

This call was great until he became unnatural in his tone. The Marriott chain obviously has him offer me a series of pop up ads which frankly pisses me off. I can disable them on my computer without being rude- please pick up on my tone of voice and figure out that I'm tired of being on the phone- let me go!

Experience Two:
I anticipated a call to the hotel to be one of an extremely professional tone as my first call, but when I called the day before check-in to see what time check-in was and to request an earlier check-in, the younger man said "we're all booked." Uh... no crap? I have a reservation- again, here's my confirmation number, can I get an early check-in please? "We're all booked."

Sometimes I want to reach through the phone and thump someone in the head!!! He was extremely rude and irritated that I would dream of asking for an early check-in when they are booked. After his third "we're all booked" and my "I understand that but can you at least tell me what time check-in is so I can see if it will work for me?" I finally lost it. "I hear you telling me you are booked and you are not telling me what time I can check in. Your booking situation is not my problem, nor is your attitude. Transfer me to a manager or simply tell me what time I can check in." "Oh, check-in is at 3:00, call tomorrow morning for availability on new rooms."

How hard was that? My second experience was drastically different, yet the two people I spoke with work for the same company at the same location!


So, how does this all relate to the Real Estate industry? If I had based the entire hotel chain on either one of these phone experiences, I would be blogging about how much Marriott sucks, but I am realistic and know that I just had bad luck on the phone. Maybe the first person was new and knew he was being recorded and maybe the second person had a lobby full of people waiting angrily to check in while his manager yelled at him from the back office. I'm forgiving despite my irritability and sensitivities.

The truth is, Realtors must mind that not ALL clients are as forgiving as I tend to be- EVERY call, EVERY email, EVERY meeting should be as if you are representing an entire industry, because the sad truth is that Realtors do have to represent an industry under fire with every point of contact they make. Be mindful and follow the golden rule- don't oversell and don't EVER, under ANY circumstance act annoyed that someone is asking you to do your job.


Jeff Brown said...

Lani - When someone answers a question I didn't ask, I ask them.......

"Since you chose to answer a question I didn't ask, I'm wondering......If I ask you the one you just answered will your answer be to my first question?"

When I ask you what time checkout is, I don't want the answer to, "Are you guys totally booked?"

Now, pay attention to my words, because I'm not bilingual - process them - then please answer that question.

Thank you so much. :)

You gotta have fun Lani.

The lesson is a good one for us. I was taught to pretend every caller was my dear departed Grandma. It works for me.

Shailesh said...


Interesting stories. Customer service should be treated very carefully. You just know when you're getting good service.

I can tell you so many stories of my own experiences.

Thanks for sharing!


Jeff- I had to read that several times; I'm going to transcribe it and carry it in my wallet for this very scenario :)

Shailesh- you're right, you just KNOW when it's good!