The guest checking in at the front desk was obviously road weary.  His button-up dress shirt seat-belt wrinkled and coming untucked, he leaned against the counter.  A suit jacket hung neatly over the handle of his small, well-traveled rolling suitcase.

Hip 2b Square 2013“Here’s your room key.  Breakfast is 6:30 to 9:00 in that area over there.” The registration attendant gestured to his right while sliding the guest room key card across the counter.

The businessman gathered wallet, jacket and room key.  Then, just as I was stepping up to the check-in desk, he turned back and shot over his shoulder, “Is there anywhere around here to grab a couple of beers and unwind?”

The 20-something desk attendant scrunched up his face as though he’d never given much thought to the art of unwinding.  “There’s not a lot around here except regular restaurants,” he said slowly.

“Sir, I don’t mean to interrupt, but I can offer some suggestions.” With such a dismal response to what should be a simple and probably often-asked question by a hotel guest, I shuddered at what might be the attendant’s idea of “regular restaurants.”  This called for earnest and immediate intervention. Luckily, the attendant seemed relieved rather than offended when I stepped in.

I set my delivery on the counter, a large box full of collateral materials like Denton Live magazines, visitor maps, and Hip-2-B-Square guides to our downtown entertainment district.  The Denton Convention & Visitor Bureau (DCVB) keeps Denton lodging properties stocked with resources for situations just like this one. Perhaps this young attendant was brand new on the job.  I hoped that was the case.  I handed the guest one of each and highlighted the local scene while assuring him that unwinding is practically a sport in Denton.  Appreciative, he left me to deliver the most in-depth customer service elevator speech I ever have.  This guy needed it! Did he seriously know nothing about Denton?  Does he not get how “unregular” our city is?  Denton is Original!  Independent!

Denton Live Fall 2013 magazine coverThis is a real story.  I’m not naming names; but, stay with me and keep reading.  This is important.  I tell this story because it is not an isolated incident, and that should horrify all of us.  Right away, the DCVB began developing the Denton Originals Customer Service & Destination Certification program.  It’s rolling out Tuesday, September 2, 100% Denton-centric for any and all Denton businesses who want to avoid such a story ever being told about them.

Denton Originals are the upper service echelon because, after completing the 2-hour course in either a live class setting or online, they are armed with information and knowledge.  They’ve honed their soft skills in areas like first impressions, difficult situations, and listening.  They know Denton.  They are an exclusive band of achievers with access to insider information and hospitality tips through newsletters, emails, and a Facebook community where ideas are exchanged.  They quickly prove their worth to employers.  They make more money.  Doors open for them because customers love them.  They come back and bring friends.

Denton Originals is about helping all of us help our guests enjoy every moment inside any business in our city.  It’s about making them feel good about spending their money with us.  And it’s about the story they will tell when they leave.  Back in the old days of customer service training, the rule of thumb was that one person would tell 10-20 people about a bad customer service experience.  That was SO five years ago!  Now days, one person can tell thousands of others while the bad experience is literally still underway. Astounding.

One bad experience affects all the others around it.  A negative encounter with a rude clerk in one store, for instance, can lead a customer to perceive that people (implying all of us) in Denton are rude, or Denton is a rude place.  We cannot afford the bad experiences in Denton.  The good news is, we don’t have to. Good experiences work the same way.  We can choose a different outcome but we have to make it happen.

Denton Originals classes are free and open to any Denton business either online or in live classes.  The next live classes will be offered September 11th or 12th at the DCVB.  Email me for registration information.

Want to know more about the Denton Originals program? Read Part One and Part Two of the blog on discoverdenton.com/blog.