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Special Education Director's Blog

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Power of Apology!

Like most of you, I just returned from TCASE and am trying to organize the information I acquired.  One thing I was reminded of on my trip was the power of an apology!
As you know, the hotel, J.W. Marriott, was brand spanking new. All the kinks had not been worked out, but I found the service to be very accommodating.  For example, when I arrived, I realized that my sink had only a dribble of water coming from the faucet.  The next morning I notified the front desk of the problem.  When I came back that night, I found the following handwritten note on my counter:

Ms. Gates,
We sincerely apologize for the low water pressure in your sink.  We hope that engineering has taken care of it to your satisfaction.  We hope you have a wonderful rest of your stay with us. —The JW Austin Front Office Team


Well, wasn’t that nice!  I, of course, went immediately to my sink to bask in the joy of full water pressure!  Just imagine how clean my hands will be!  Well, do you know what I found? Dribble, dribble, dribble. But I didn’t panic . . . after all, people who wrote such a nice note would surely fix things!
So I called the front desk again and explained that though I was sure the engineer had fixed my faucet, since he left, it had gone back to a dribble.  I was certain that people nice as this would certainly have fixed it!  The sweet girl at the front desk apologized profusely and said someone would be down immediately . . . and they were!
The young man who arrived at my door, not 10 minutes later, was very apologetic but come to find out, my dribble was being repeated in every faucet in the hotel.  There was a lengthy explanation, but what I heard was that basically the city of Austin was not giving them enough water, and they were going to have to change out every faucet in the hotel. I did not quite understand this.  I explained that Houston is a very big city, and we have enough water! But his demeanor was so sweet and apologetic that I didn’t push the issue. 
Within 15 minutes of him leaving, there was a knock on my door.  Could it be they were sending someone for a second opinion or a new faucet?  Neither!  I opened the door to a hotel staff member holding a box with a ribbon tied around it and a note. She handed both to me and said how very sorry they all were that they were not able to resolve my dribble issue.  (Actually, that is my term . . . her's was more professional!) 
I accepted the box and note.  The box was warm and smelled like grandma’s kitchen.  You got it . . . fresh baked chocolate chip cookies with a note that said:
Ms. Gates,
I wanted to apologize that the water pressure in your sink wasn’t corrected the first time around.  That most certainly is not up to our standard.  Please enjoy these cookies as a small apology.  If there is anything else we can do for you, please don’t hesitate to ask. —Morgan 
Wow!  Hard to get mad when you are holding warm cookies!  I don’t think she even knew about Austin not having enough water and that they were going to have to change all the faucets . . . better not to burst her bubble now.  Though I do wonder if there will be cookies to go along with that news, too!
In the end, I never did get more than a dribble from my sink. However, because of the manner in which the staff handled the situation, I was satisfied with washing my hands in the shower.  Certainly a lesson for me to learn from as I might deal with situations when I can’t always give someone what they want! 
7145 West Tidwell Road | Houston, Texas 77092-2096 | 713.462.7708