I’ve stayed in some really nice places, Gleneagles, The Grosvenor House Hotel and The Langham in Hong for example (one of the perks of working  in the events industry) And I’ve been to many others, all considered to be world class (a perk of working for large corporates.)

Now, I’m not sure what qualifies as being great, brilliant, or THE BEST Hotel, but I’m pretty sure that one of the criteria has to be customer service. I’m not naming names but in many of the hotels I’ve stayed in I’ve felt that if I dropped down dead, they’d simply walk over me. You might assume that the people staying in such places are all snotty, in my experience this isn’t true, it’s the staff that look like they’ve got a mouth full of thistle!

(I must say at this point that this definitely isn’t true of the Langham in HK, nor Gleneagles as I think the sun shines out of both of their back doors!)

So, while many friends and family think I’m lucky to travel with my job and stay in great places, I have to say that in reality it’s not great because what you’re really after when living away from home is a smiley face; in other words great customer service!

Recently I found myself working on a new project in Reading. A trip to Silicone Valley (which is what Reading is), staying at the Premier Inn Central for 6 nights. (I don’t mind staying in Premier Inns at all, but after a couple of nights it gets deathly boring. Plus, I always get confused as they all look identical and I continually wake up wondering where the hell I am.)

So late one Sunday night off I go to Reading and the Premier Inn Central. I’m expecting absolutely nothing as I’ve learnt that this way I won’t be disappointed. I arrive at the gate to the Car Park and there is nowhere to park, it’s rammed. I’ve got expensive kit in the car so I can’t just park in the street. I press the little intercom button at the barrier gate and am shocked when I hear, ‘hello, how can I help you’ ? I explain that there is nowhere to park and before I ask if there’re is an alternative car park the voice politely asks me to wait. Seconds later a man is once again welcoming me to the hotel and explaining that he’s about to move one of the chefs cars so I’ll have a space. I’m confused and very shocked.

10 minutes later I’ve had help unloading the car and I’m in reception being greeted by another very friendly person who checks me in, organises someone to help me with my luggage, asks if I had a good journey and have I travelled far. I’m overwhelmed!

I won’t bore you with every detail but all the way to my room I was literally open mouthed in shock due to the level of service I’d received. 30 minutes later and I’m in the bar having a drink and chatting away to one of the waiters about traveling, University and generally putting the world to rights.

28 hours later (it was a long day) and I walk back into the bar. I’m greeted by a familiar member of staff who asks me if I’d like a Mint Tea – Wow! (This is what I was drinking the evening before – I like to live on the edge) Then another member of staff asks me if I’ve had a long day and would I like something to eat. Wow! And on and on it goes this great customer service until I leave on day 6.

As I relay this revelation to my colleagues they all scoff at my story. (Some people have been known to nickname the chain, the Premier Bin.)

A number of weeks later I find myself on the A4 travelling to Reading for another weeks stay, but this time I have three colleagues with me. I’ve forced everyone to stay at the Premier Inn Central instead of a lovely hotel in Caversham and am slightly concerned that I might have just invented the whole experience, the lovely people will have gone and we’ll be met by a load of B team players (This concept will be explained in my next blog.)

Fast forward to check in at Reception. ‘Hello, it’s lovely to see you again.’ I stand with a cocky smile on my face as my colleagues look like they’ve been welcomed by a wizard. And so, all my colleagues over the next few days get to experience the same level of great customer service. Consequently we’ve been back to The Premier Inn Reading Central dozens of times, so much so that some of the staff know us by name, and vice versa.

 ‘Customer Service’ isn’t about prestigious buildings, expensive décor or global brands, it’s about People; great people.

Manners cost nothing, but neither does great Customer Service.

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Rachel Willis