Last year I took a short vacation in Las Vegas. My arrived at one of the popular strip hotels and was told my room would not be ready for several hours. I had tickets for a 6:00pm show, so I asked to speak to a manager, but he seemed indignant that I expected to check in on time (amazing!). He told me that my room might not be ready until after 6pm. He implied that this was MY problem and that he was not there to solve it. When I informed him of my need to change clothes before the show, he said he had no suggestions. Finally he approved a spa pass after much arguing. Then he handed me the envelope that normally holds the room key. I was to pick up the key after they called me later in the evening. The most interesting part of the story has to do with the envelope. In small print, it said “While you are waiting for your room, feel free to gamble and have some drinks in the casino.” The key word here is WHILE.

As soon as I read the fine print on the envelope, I understood why the manager was indignant. His bosses were not holding him accountable for having rooms ready by check-in and had made a decision to saddle their guests with the problems related to this issue. His measure for success must have been staffing to the bare minimum for cleaning rooms, rather than staffing to ensure that a certain percentage of rooms would be ready by check-in time. The message on the envelope confirmed this. So did the many other people waiting in line with me who did not have a room ready that day.

I checked in at 9pm after the show. I find it most curious that the management team at a major hotel where there is lots of competition would build extended wait times into their normal check-in procedure. With room rates exceeding $200/night, I expected more and WILL NOT RETURN to this hotel.

The morale of the story – departments will choose to meet or not meet customer expectations based on how they are measured. If you want your company to give great customer service, measure for it. As a customer, ask your suppliers to work with you to establish measures that reflect their level of service. A good supplier will welcome this opportunity to serve you better and focus their people on the most important aspects of their jobs.