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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

What I Learned About Customer Service Last Week, Episode 1

Most of you have heard me rant at some point about customer service.  It's long been a personal soapbox, and it's become a professional one in the past year too.  I have very clear ideas and strong opinions on what constitutes good customer service, and often lament the fact that it seems to be a dwindling commodity.  But it's been a week (or two, actually) of stark contrasts, and it's interesting to me.  Indulge me a little, read on.

When at first we arrived in Vacationland, USA, we were set to stay for the first couple of nights in
savanna-view rooms at the Animal Kingdom Kidani Village (which is a really, really nice place and on Disney's top tier accommodation-wise), and we got semi-settled.  There was noise coming from next door, but it was afternoon, so nobody worried about it.  Kyle, the girls and I headed toward Downtown Disney for a little bit of shopping while Gabe slept and Scott rested.  A short while later, I became aware of the fact that the 'little bit of noise next door' had blossomed into a full-blown party and was getting progressively louder.  Scott had called the front desk and asked them to request that the next-door people quiet down to a reasonable level.  (By now, it's 9:30ish.)  They'd sent a security officer up, the exchange with which Scott could hear through the (locked) adjoining door, and the second the officer left the hallway, the partiers commenced yelling obscenities through that door at Scott.  Who, I must say, handled himself with a remarkable degree of restraint as the adjoining door was still intact when we arrived back from Downtown Disney - but he was understandably wound up.

We went down to the desk and inquired as to whether there was anything else that could be done, and the gal politely informed us that, basically, 'this is Disney, and we don't kick people out,' but she sensed how upset Scott was and went in search of her manager.  She was able to reassign us to different rooms to get us out of the immediate douchebaggery zone, but was still waiting to hear back from her manager, so she did the best she could and assigned us to the two remaining open rooms in the joint -- which happened to be on opposite ends of the Lodge (literally about a mile apart) and with lovely parking lot views.  The bellhop and security officer accompanied us up to our room to retrieve all of our stuff and our chilluns, and helped us get re-settled in the new (less great) rooms.  (It's now about 11:30 pm.)  Scott had been promised a return call from the manager, and a short time later his phone rang.  The manager apologized for the inconvenience and said he would get us into different rooms for the next night - Scott told him it really was too much hassle to change rooms just for one more night, but that it was a significant inconvenience having three teenage girls in a room nowhere near us, not to mention the lack of inspiring vistas - and that if he could offer any sort of assistance on the back end of the cruise, we wouldn't mind (we were set to stay at one of the value resorts for three nights after returning from the cruise).  He told us he'd be in touch the following day.

The next day, Wil, the manager, called Scott and asked us to come to the front desk and ask for him later in the day.  We did so, and he informed us that he had arranged to transfer our reservation at the value resort back to the Kidani Village, at the original cost of the value resort, and that we should just check in there upon returning from the cruise.  We were pretty happy with that outcome - but we were also just excited to get on the boat and figured we'd deal with the rest of it when we got back.

The Cruise

Seven days in the Caribbean sounds delightful in any case, and especially so on a Disney cruise ship,
where we were spoiled rotten for the entire week and in general taken very good care of.  We had a great stateroom host, outstanding dinner servers, and basically basked in the glow of happiness that the ship's staff exuded.

Midway through, while on an excursion (excuse me, Disney calls them "port adventures") adventure at the Mayan ruins at Tulum, Scott inverted his ankle on some stone steps shortly after making fun of an ancient god's name and did a number on it.  It swelled almost immediately to the size of a grapefruit, and he tried to tough it out and finally admitted that he needed to get off that leg for a while.  Which gave me a great opportunity to feed my brood and then go from establishment to establishment dusting off my rudimentary Spanish to ask for "una bolsa de hielo" which was a remarkably difficult request, apparently.  Finally, after a helpful shopkeeper volunteered to scrape some ice off the inside of his soda cooler and put into a bag, and after a couple of hombres gave Scott some kind of salve to put on his ankle (??Don't ask, don't tell...) we went back to the bus and decided we'd probably have to get it looked at.  The ship's trusty nurse, Anna, gave sold us a couple of Ace bandages, a soft ankle brace, and some Ben-Gay (???) and off we went, back to the stateroom.

The next morning on the ship, we journeyed down to Deck 1 to the ship's medical clinic (as it were) on the advice of the Director of Port Adventures, who had been in touch after having received the report from the contracted tour company, and were less than overjoyed to find the doors closed and locked.  Time was 11:02, and the clinic had presumably gotten a heads-up that we were inbound - but posted clinic hours ended at 11:00.  My frustrated tug on the doors elicited a response just as we were turning to leave - but we were informed that if we wanted to come in and have it looked at, it would be an extra $100 on top of the doctor's fee, or that we could come back at 4:30.  Grrrr.  4:30 it was.

When we returned at 4:30ish, we were taken back into the hallways of the clinic and a different nurse tried to take a history while getting her ass kicked by the automatic blood pressure cuff.  Mind you, we were being very polite and gracious this entire time.  Dr. Singh, as identified by his badge, came in a bit later and looked, poked, prodded, and appeared thoughtful.  "We could do an x-ray, I think, to see if anything is broken."  Scott asked "Would it change your treatment either way?"  Dr. Singh admitted that it would not, and that said treatment would consist of a rigid splint and crutches.  Scott very kindly and appreciatively told Dr. Singh that he had no intention of wearing a long-leg splint or walking on crutches for the remainder of the cruise, and that if he could just prescribe a few doses of something for the pain, all would be fine.  Dr. Singh then replied (insert your own east Indian accent here, just because it's fun) "If you do not take the splint and crutches, I will be forced to confine you to your stateroom."  Whaaaaat??  Scott acquiesced and we went into what appeared to be a resuscitation room for splinting.

We waited for Dr. Singh for a time; in retrospect, I fully believe he spent that time trying to learn how to craft a long-leg splint from Ortho-glass.  While we waited, we looked around us at the supply cabinets in the room, and chuckled at the misspellings on some of the labels.  TROMBOLYTICS, read one.  ANTIMICROBAL MEDICATIONS, said another.  (We are both of the opinion that if you can't correctly spell a medication, you have no business administering it.)  And then Dr. Singh came in and proceeded with the most awkward, clueless, ridiculous Ortho-glass application I've ever witnessed (And as a nurse, I freely admit that I'm not great with Ortho-glass - but I could have splinted circles around this tool).  Some 30 minutes later, he finished the splint and went for crutches, which he brought back and began height-adjusting them by moving the hand pieces up as high as possible.  I stood up to help, unable to further tolerate his astounding ineptitude, and he suddenly remembered what to do and clumsily finished.  He went to retrieve a small supply of Percocet, and while he did so, the inimitable Anna came through the room with a smile.  Scott ribbed her a little about the spellings on the labels, and she turned and very snottily said "Well, maybe you'd like to come down here and re-label everything for us."

Check, please!!

Curiously enough, he did not use the crutches or the splint once we left Deck 1.

The Port Adventures Director, Jennifer from Canada, was very helpful and was unhappy to hear of our experience down in the catacombs of the "medical clinic," and said that she would see what could be done about the charges for the splint and crutches he hadn't really wanted to take.

Disappointingly, the ship's staff officer, or some such, deemed that they were reasonable costs and that the bill would stand.  (Whatever, dude, a $300 medical bill is nothin' on top of our 3K of onboard expenses already, but it's the principle of the thing.)

Anyhoo.  At the conclusion of the cruise, we returned back to Orlando and to Disney World, and to the Animal Kingdom Kidani Village as directed.  After just a little bit of paper shuffling and computering by the front desk staff, we were given new MagicBands (which is Disney's ingenious new creation that allows you to get into your room, get into the parks, and BUY STUFF with a tap of your wrist) to get into our new rooms.

Holy Palatial Savanna Views, Batman!!  We had been put in first-floor, savanna view one-bedroom suites - two of 'em - that were easily three times the size of our first rooms.  They were located almost next to each other, and in the section of the savanna that actually had animals roaming in it often.  We were super happy with this turn of events, and our faith in the Disney way of customer service was renewed.


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Alan Abraham said...
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