Terrible Service Vs Brilliant Service Recovery

In the service industry, things will invariably go wrong ! Someone’s orders will get mixed up or the room wouldn’t be ready or the sheets will be soiled etc etc. In the hotel industry, service recovery is the first lesson one learns. We had one instance of brilliant service recovery and another instance of a terrible let down. Sharing both here.

Terrible Service !

On Dec 31, 2022 we had booked ourselves a room at Zibe by GRT, Peelamedu, Coimbatore. We had stayed at the GRT properties in Tirunelveli and Chennai. Great experiences and amazing food ! Zibe by GRT is exactly opposite our favourite Peelamedu Hanuman temple and that was the main reason to book the hotel.

We were driving down from Trichy to Coimbatore and as its a short drive, we left Trichy only around 11 am and reached Coimbatore around 4 pm. Krishnan went in to get us checked in and I started taking out a few things that we needed as we were staying for just one night. We were told by the front office folks that the previous guest had locked the room, left his things inside and was unreachable !!!

They offered us a different smaller room, but we didn’t want to take that and then shift to our room. As Amma was feeling a little under the weather, we decided to take her to the doctor and wait to see if the guest returned in time for us to check-in. We met Rohini and Athimber near the doctor’s office and were hugely relieved when the doctor just prescribed a mild medicine for Amma’s cough.

At about 6.30 pm we received a call from the hotel to tell us that our room was ready. So we went back to the hotel, took out the things we needed, ordered some food and got ready to visit the Hanuman temple.

The next morning, the breakfast buffet was so crowded that service wasn’t able to keep up. We decided to break our journey at Hosur instead of driving all the way to Coorg, so we ate a late breakfast. When we were checking out, the hotel had charged us for the soup that we had ordered the previous evening. I was livid.

First they didn’t keep the room ready, that led to a delay in our start the next day. We lost a day at Club Mahindra Coorg and we were paying for an additional night’s stay at Hosur. It didn’t occur to the front office associate to even offer us complimentary soup ! His explanation just made me angrier – since they had already billed it, it wasn’t possible to reverse or waive off the charges 🙄. The manager came by and tried giving the same explanation and I launched into a mini training session on service recovery.

Finally they waived off the in-room dining charges. Just a terrible experience that has made us wary of staying at a GRT property going forward.

Brilliant Service Recovery

On Feb 6th we stayed at Novotel Varun, Vijayawada enroute to Vizag. The room was fantastic, but it had literally nothing … not even a spoon to stir the milk powder for tea. A wedding was underway and nearly all the rooms had been booked by the wedding party.

The extra bed for Amma came late and after several phone calls. Initially housekeeping refused to give a cot saying we only have mattresses ! Food got delayed. Except for a clean room in a great location on the highway, there was little else to make us happy.

While checking out Krishnan mentioned this to Narendra, one of the front office executives who had been in touch with us right through. We informed Narendra that we will be back for another one night stay on Feb 11th and were hoping for a better service. He assured us that we will be satisfied with their service on Feb 11th.

After Aditya’s wedding on Feb 10th, we left Vizag on the 11th morning for Vijayawada. Krishnan called Narendra and informed him that we will reach around 5 pm. We reached by 4.45 pm.

What an amazing service recovery ! We got upgraded to a one bedroom suite, with Amma’s cot already inside the room. Besides the pantry being full with water bottles, tea/coffee service and complimentary murukku and chocolates etc. We were just thrilled.

The next morning while checking out, we even asked Narendra if we could get the Accor membership just because of the way things were handled by him.

Making a customer happy is so easy … just get things right and if you mess up, then come back strongly with a good service recovery. Because of Narendra, now Novotel is a hotel chain that we will be looking to book our stay in.

Do read my earlier blogposts on this topic – Service recovery is possible!! and Customer service – a good story !

#CustomerService #LiveToTravel

1 thought on “Terrible Service Vs Brilliant Service Recovery”

  1. The personal touch makes all the difference. Even though he works for a chain, Narendra is a representative for his company. His attitude and behavior show you can rest easy under their roof.


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