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The right way to handle customer complaints

Look at this fantastic response to a Marriott online satisfaction survey.  Just perfect. 

Most companies never respond to those surveys at all. 

Tip:  If you ask customers what’s wrong, you better be prepared to step up and fix it.


From: Schmitz, Martina 

Sent: Mon 5/26/2008 10:44 AM 

Subject: New York Midtown East Courtyard

Thank you for taking the time from your busy schedules to complete Mr. Marriott’s Guest Satisfaction survey! We appreciate feedback both negative and positive and will make certain through our continuous improvement processes that these types of issues will not recur with future Guests! 

I would like to thank you first of all for your kind scores, but hope you will accept my heartfelt apology for your experience in our business center! I can only imagine how frustrating it must have been for you to not be able to print due to the lack of ink, but to also find it a mess! Based on your feedback I have since re-trained our public space attendant and implemented more frequent rounds to the business center to ensure its cleanliness and to ensure everything is in working order. Once again, I apologize for your experience here and I ensure it has been addressed! 

When your travels bring you back to New York City, please contact me directly and I will gladly process your reservation and I would be delighted to block you in an upgraded room! Thank you once again for your feedback and have a great day! 



Martina Schmitz / Director of Services 

New York Midtown East Courtyard 

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  1. Ed Kohler June 9, 2008 at 9:00 am #

    That’s impressive. It sounds like they care! Actually, I’m sure most places do, but just fail to act like they do.

  2. ahg3 (Arthur Germain) June 9, 2008 at 11:03 am #

    Great example of customer service response. Let us know what you find on your next visit. Follow-up is key!

  3. mike ashworth June 9, 2008 at 3:07 pm #

    Hi Andy,
    It is encouraging to read that people
    take notice of these surveys. often you wonder if they just get added into some huge database and never actually looked at.
    I don’t think it is perfect, although not far off it.
    It could have been made better if they had said “sorry” as opposed to “heartfelt apology”. I have been noting recently that use of the word sorry is in decline and is being substituted by either “I apologise” or “I regret”. Whilst these words may appear to mean the same thing I feel they do not.
    I feel that the language customers use in their own lives resonates well when used by a Corporation.
    Could you imagine if you someone said to their partner
    “I hope you will accept my heartfelt apology for failing to mow the lawn last weekend. This was brought about by a lack of essential materials (fuel) and a gap in the learning skills of the mower operative (me)”
    And they apologised twice, no need, once is all. repeated usage diminishes the value of the apology.
    Mike Ashworth
    Marketing Coach and Consultant
    Brighton and Hove, Sussex, UK

  4. Kelly Lowe June 13, 2008 at 8:12 pm #

    Wow..that’s what customer service SHOULD be. The majority of the time, if I am given cause to contact a businesses customer service department, the service is so shoddy that when they ask me to fill out a survey concerning my opinion of the service, I clearly say “darlin’, if you want your job, you don’t want my opinion!”

  5. Mark Nagurski June 16, 2008 at 3:31 pm #

    Above what’s already been said the point that jumped out at me was the personalisation – “please contact me directly”.
    It doesn’t take a lot to make a routine point of contact into a personal point of contact. People like doing business with people.
    In fact, it’s so effective that it wouldn’t surprise me if Martina Smitz gets a reply email back thanking her for her apology on most occasions.

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