Dear Marriott: Some free service advice after a bad night

The ceiling above my hotel bed leaked all night long, onto the mattress, the end table and the rug below. Had to sleep on the floor as a result.

OK, so maybe it’s not your fault that my hotel room ceiling leaked all night long. Though the fact that there was already a stain in the same corner of the room suggests you should have known about it.  But what doesn’t really work for me is the response that I got when I called in the middle of the night. It went something like this:

“We’re sorry, the hotel is totally booked there’s nothing we can do.”

Really? Nothing you can do?  How about a real apology?  How about an offer of five free nights at any Marriott in the system? How about setting up a bed in a conference room? They’re not full in the middle of the night. Or perhaps it doesn’t really matter to you.  After all, you’re full.  Business is good. What do you care if you lose one customer or have an occasionally unhappy guest?

Well I think you should care. Because not caring is the beginning of the end.  And whether you believe it or not, no business these days is indispensable.

My suggestion is this.  Develop a customer bill of rights if you don’t have one already.  Post it at the front desk. Place it in the rooms. Train your employees in what says and what it means.

Start with:

1. We guarantee your satisfaction.

2. We guarantee your room will be clean and that everything works: the clock, TV, lamps, bathroom.

3. If for any reason your stay with us was unsatisfactory we will make it up with comparable accommodations on us.

4. We will take any complaint and suggestion seriously and respond as quickly as humanly possible.

5. We encourage you to Tweet, blog, and post images and video of anything you find below standards or unresolved.

The last point is to me the most important. It acknowledges that Marriott recognizes it lives in an age of social media and expects to be held to even higher standards as a result.

What do you think?  Do brands have to be even more responsive when all of its customers can create, share and disseminate opinions and reactions?