Tuesday, May 22, 2012

One morning in Poland

As a big believer in focusing on the customer in business, I had a memorable experience this month that I just had to share.

I was in Poland with some of my senior team for a course. We were put up in the Hyatt Regency. A decent hotel. Nice rooms, nice facilities and from the very first instance, some very polite and helpful staff. Now I haven’t been to Warsaw in nearly 10 years, so can't comment if this is the norm or not for the city, but I was pleasantly surprised. I arrived a day before the event and on my first day there I had a scheduled an early morning conference call. This took longer than expected and ended at 10.40am. It appeared as thought I had missed breakfast (they end at 10.30), but I rushed down anyway to see if there was at least a leftover croissant I may be able to grab.

As I entered the restaurant, the tables had been cleared and the buffet also, but the staff were still around tidying up. I asked a nearby waitress if it was possible to just get some fruit and she led me to the chef. Without hesitation, he approved. He asked me to sit down and the food would be brought to me.

I chose a table near the window to enjoy the bright sunny morning. I wasn’t pushed away to a convenient corner for the staff, and within 5 minutes 5 large bowls of fresh fruit were placed in front of me along with some fresh juice.



Now this is nothing very fancy, and in reality it would not have been that difficult to arrange for the kitchen staff, but I was / am surprised and impressed with this because it is so extraordinary … especially for a hotel “chain”. I might have expected something like this from a more boutique style hotel where they set their own rules, but I am sure that Hyatt has a corporate handbook with guidelines of what they can and cannot do, but the kitchen staff in this instance used some common sense. They saw a customer, they saw they had the food ready and available, and they satisfied me by incurring very little effort and virtually no cost.

While I am happy to write stories like this and promote those who do good things, it is shame that it is so rare and that the simplest of activities warrant such praise and gain such a reaction … and even though its something I try to push within our business, the need to put the customer and his or her needs at the center of everything we do doesn’t seem to come naturally to most people.

So my proverbial hat off to the staff at the Hyatt Regency in Warsaw. Well done and keep it up!

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