Complaining to a hotel on phone: make it effective in 7 steps

angry-callerSo you were delayed or the room was lousy and the food insipid… For most guests the only option is to ask for the manager. Well, it gets you attention and you stir a pretty memorable show, but then what?

Next time you need to file a complaint with a hotel on phone, here are seven steps you could follow for awesome feedback.

  1. What’s up?

Before calling take a minute and think through the kind of outcomes you’d like to achieve. Example, by the end of this call, I should secure a refund for poor services.

Then, logically, consider the kind of actions you’d take to realize these outcomes. The key word is logically, meaning hotels don’t just hand a refund simply because you yelled or hurled names. They surely follow some kind of procedure. Your actions could include finding out such a procedure, what it takes and how long and who is in charge. Do your research.

Now re-write your story and make your claims as convincing as possible. List down key points and ensure they guide the conversation on the phone. Then calm down.

  1. Who are you?

Hotel calls are often routed via a switchboard to an operator not the operations manager. It would be absolutely impolite to pick a rant with someone who has absolutely no control over your misfortune. Start with an introduction: let them know your name, where you’re calling from and whether indeed you’re talking to the right hotel.

Make it a conversation, find out who you’re talking to; their name, position and department. Make a complement; it’s impossible that the entire hotel was dysfunctional. Importantly, this gives you both a relaxed environment to talk.

  1. What happened?

Explain how you got involved with the hotel:  “I checked-in your hotel on date and time X for event Y and spent 3 days in room Z.”

Elaborate your complaint: “While checking out, I realized I was getting charged for a suite while I stayed in a standard. That is KSh 15,000 more for each of the 3 days. I did not get the comfort of this package and therefore, I am calling to demand a refund of KSh 45,000.”

  1. Who’s responsible?

Find out who is authorized to handle your issues and if you could speak directly to them. Ask for tips; a name and position. Get relayed to them ASAP.

The receptionist may request you to call later, she’s probably briefing the guy in charge. How long should you wait to call back? Agree with the receptionist. Call back.

The Receptionist will probably have briefed the person or if they call you, the better. In any case, don’t get tired reciting the [whole] story again. Make it a conversation; introduce yourself, let out your frustrations (without the insults, threats or stereotypes), listen and expect change and express your confidence in the listener’s competence.

Did you get a name? Get also a mobile phone, email or a more direct link to them.

  1. Clarifications?

You have both talked over the matter and what could be done, it’s time for questions. For instance you may pose open-ended questions to elicit empathy such as “do you suppose I was right to complain?” or commitment “is there a better way of handling this in future?” Re-affirm your confidence in their judgment and competence to solve problems.

  1. How much time?

A solution is only as good as its promptness. Agree on a timeline. Show maturity with phrases like, “would it be possible to process my refund by end of this week?” offer reminders “if you allow, I will call you a day earlier to remind you of our appointment…” and flexibility “if something pops-up in between feel free to call me.”

  1. Happy?

After such a mature conversation, it’s time to evaluate whether appointments have borne useful fruits. What’s the criteria? Very easy, has your issue been addressed on agreed time and in the agreed manner? If not, you are dissatisfied but at least, you know where to start.

If the answer is yes, you must be satisfied and you deserve to.

But remember, the essence of all this was a more responsive hotel. Put your ego aside. Use, “Dear X, I truly appreciate your assistance and sorry for the trouble I put you through in making issues right…” add “this hotel is truly customer-driven” give a second chance “… let’s keep in touch, and next time let’s have a drink and catch up”.


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