I am not a negative person.
I try to associate myself with positive people and positive environments.
However, I felt it necessary to share this story of how an organization can lose years of loyalty in a matter of minutes.
I do not like to focus on the negative, even when it happens to me.
What I would like to do now is to use The Cosmopolitan’s failures, The Cosmopolitan’s rudeness, and The Cosmopolitan’s treating a customer with a level of disrespect that is completely unbelievable, as a way to learn and teach what not to do if you want to keep your customers loyal.
More importantly, I will endeavor to use this horrific customer experience as a way to juxtapose what The Cosmopolitan should have done at each key moment of truth to avoid losing two customers for life.
Key Moment of Truth #1 – It is Las Vegas. It is 4:00 in the afternoon, not 4:00 in the morning. The failure at this first moment of truth is the security team understanding a noise issue from a neighbor at 4:00 in the afternoon is completely different from a noise issue from a neighboring room at 4:00 in the morning.
Context is important no matter what your role is. Context means using your diagnosis skills, which I don’t believe any one of the security personnel did when they violated our privacy and ransacked our personal items in the quest to solve a noise issue.
The other issue with context is knowing your customer.
We were there as invited guests of the property.
It is a bad diagnosis to send five seemingly angry, but most definitely rude security people to treat your invited guests with such a level of disrespect, both personally and to our personal property.
Key Moment of Truth #2 – Safety, security, common respect and politeness are not mutually exclusive.
I travel all over the world and I have had the pleasure to consult at the very highest levels at many of the world’s leading brands such as The Ritz Carlton. An organization like The Ritz Carlton whose motto is “Ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen” would never let any one of their guests be treated with such a level of disrespect.
Both my global travels and my professional experience have given me an insight and an understanding to the importance of creating a safe environment for every guest.
I understand that security plays a critically important role in providing a safe, secure environment for each and every guest.
However, there is never a reason to be rude, disrespectful and condescending to a guest.
Especially a guest who you invited to the property!
I think The Cosmopolitan’s service failure is analogous to inviting people over for dinner and then calling the police on them because they were talking too loud at the dinner table.
I cannot imagine any good reason for a security officer to threaten to take a guest “downtown” if they did not sit down and shut up.
Rude people leave a long, lasting impression.
One rude person can cost your business a customer for life.
What happened at The Cosmopolitan went beyond rude.
It was invasive, humiliating, degrading, shocking and quite frankly, surreal.
Key Moment of Truth #3 – Respect is critical in maintaining customer relationships.
Many people have difficult jobs, many people have to deal with difficult situations.
Security is a tough job. I imagine, especially so in a place like Las Vegas. I suspect the officers may have been burnt out and maybe even a little angry after having to deal with the New Years Eve revelers. That does not give them an excuse for the level of disrespect that they showed.
I personally have been going to Las Vegas since I was a very young boy when my parents used to drive me there in our station wagon.
I have run sales meetings there. I have had bachelor parties there. I have been in rooms and suites that deserved to have security come and quiet us down! Each and every time I was in a room, when security came they were never disrespectful. They were never rude. There is NO need to ever be rude and disrespectful!
Some of the times they showed up at 4:00 in the morning and not 4:00 in the afternoon, but those teams that arrived at 4:00 in the morning were polite, respectful and considerate.
In service and in life there is never a good reason to disrespect another human being.
If you think about it, what the security team did to my wife and I would be analogous to you inviting friends over to your house for the weekend and then going through their drawers and their toiletries without their permission!
Nobody would do that to their friend, nobody would do that to their guest, except The Cosmopolitan.
Here is what I believe proper diagnosis, proper use of respect and courtesy could have accomplished for this so-called noise concern at 4:00 in the afternoon.
It would have been better for the customer experience and tremendously more respectful but yet effective if one or two officers knocked on the door and said, “Somebody said you are being too loud, could you keep it down?”
Since we were screaming over a football game I would have said, “Sure, we’ll try to keep it down.”
Whether it is 4:00 in the morning or 4:00 in the afternoon, I never want to upset another guest because I think that’s rude, so I would certainly reply to a reasonable request to not scream so loud at the football game.
Mean, rude and disrespectful loses customers.
The Cosmopolitan’s motto is “Just the right amount of wrong.”
When it comes to being respectful, there is NO right amount of wrong.
It is ALL wrong when you disrespect your guests!
Key Moment of Truth #4 – Don’t argue with a customer who is trying to give you feedback to improve.
Feedback is a gift, but only if you are open to continuous improvement. I had to spend a significant amount of time, energy and effort simply to lodge a formal complaint. It does not matter what type of complaint an organization gets, I think it is critically important to first listen, never argue and then apologize. None of those things happened at The Cosmopolitan.
Key Moment of Truth #5 – If you get it wrong the first time, you’d better get it exceptionally right the second time. Not a lot of people complain, because typically it is such a hassle. But, when someone gives you an opportunity to recover, you’d better do it exceptionally well. At The Cosmopolitan when I lodged a significant concern and complaint, not only did they argue with me and make me feel as if I was the problem, they never even addressed my wife, they never looked her in the eye and no one said they were sorry for the situation we were complaining about. They only said that they would launch a formal investigation.
The next day when the customer experience department got involved, instead of listening to understand why such a loyal customer was so upset, offended and vowed to never return to one of his past favorite properties, they again were rude and disrespectful. The lame customer experience representative even distinguished that security was not her department and that her goal was to get me to return.
Recovery means listening. Recovery means being empathetic.
Recovery is not about focusing on reoccurring revenue. It is about focusing on the PERSON and listening.
Key Moment of Truth #6 – In service, peace of mind is one of the critical elements to exceptional customer experiences.
When your customers no longer have peace of mind, you no longer have loyalty.
Because my wife and I felt so violated, we no longer have the peace of mind to return to that property called The Cosmopolitan. I call it a property because of the lack of hospitality inside. When you are in the people business you can’t separate departments and functions.
Each and every person inside your business impacts the customer experience, their loyalty and yes, your customer’s peace of mind.
If you let somebody inside of your four walls, I do not care what department they are in, they better be focused on enhancing the customer experience. Even security!
When you are in service recovery, expect to have a frustrated customer who may be emotional. You need to let your customers vent.
I think one of the silliest things in the world is when a customer representative or a customer experience champion starts off a conversation by saying, “Please don’t be disrespectful to me by raising your voice.”
That is what Valerie said to me from The Cosmopolitan. She was concerned about me respecting her by not raising my voice, yet she never listened to me or showed any empathy for the level of concern I had about the lack of respect and level of rudeness that was shown to me and my wife.
If you are in customer service and you are dealing with an angry customer, they may yell at you and they may even swear at you. It is your job to listen and not be defensive so that you can understand the real issue that your customer has. And ideally, solve it!
I never felt listened to by any representative from The Cosmopolitan. Not one.
I know my wife did not feel listened to either because not one person would even look her in the eye or speak to her!
Being nice, being respectful, being friendly, being fast and being flexible are the winning traits for any business that is trying to keep their customers, and have them buy more, stay longer and tell others.
Unfortunately, when an organization does not do any of these things, like The Cosmopolitan did not in the example I am illustrating, you get the opposite.
Instead of creating a net promoter, being rude, mean and disrespectful will always create a net detractor.
Here is how it can have such a significant impact on your and your business:
I used to tell everyone and their dog that if they are going to Vegas they have to go to The Cosmopolitan.
Since the horrific experience and the level of disrespect they have demonstrated to me, I will now be the loudest net detractor telling anyone who will listen to me to stay away from that property because they lack hospitality.
For you and your business, I hope you demonstrate what The Cosmopolitan did not.