The Complaint Letter

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Brief introduction

The complaint letter being analyzed was addressed to Andres Metz, Heathrow’s ATMI general manager  by a Canadian client, Dr. Mark Hankins (Cawsey, et al, 2006). The hotel targets business travelers and it is a subsidiary of a global hotel company owning or leasing more than 2,500 hotels worldwide. The complaint letter was addressed to Mr. Christopher Britton, the CEO of ATMI hotels in England.

The content and concerns described in the letter

The letter describes the experiences of the Canadian business man and his wife encountered in the hotel during his stay on August 24th year 2004. Upon arrival to the hotel, they were booked into a room on the third floor and to their dismay, the room was untidy and the bed unmade. They made a complaint and were transferred promptly to another room on the fifth floor. Another rude shock awaited them as they discovered that the room was also in a mess and not made up. Among other issues, it was worse than the room they had just vacated. Upon making another call to request another room, the operator transferred his call to the night manager who apologized profusely and vowed to fix things up.

They were made to wait for a call, but it never came, so they were prompted to call again as it was getting late, past 11 pm. The clients had been jetlagged, and they needed a place to sleep. They went downstairs, and after some time they were offered another room albeit a down grade with worn carpets, faded wallpapers and a ‘tired’ look compared to the other rooms. When the client woke up at night, he saw that an invoice had been delivered but was shocked to discover that they had been charged £ 72 for the room change on top of their normal bill despite the fact that the room was actually a downgrade.

In the morning, the client and his wife went to the reception, and the matter was settled and assurances given that there would be no extra charge on their credit card. They were offered complimentary breakfast and then they went to Paris.

Issues noted in the letter worth noting by the manager

The hotel business is a hospitality business (Hoeven & Thurik, 1984). It is the duty of staff and management in the hospitality industry to make sure that clients are fully attended to and satisfied (Slattery, 2002). There are several important issues outlined in the complaint letter written by Dr. Mark that the management of ATMI hotels should take note of and work on. The hotel, in their website according to Cawsey, et al (2006) guarantees its clients total hospitality. The minor issues that the Canadian client went through that night may form a part of a major undoing of the hotel. First, the manager should note that the rooms’ tidiness schedule is weak. Having two untidy rooms in one night should not be allowed to happen. Secondly, despite being promised of a response, the response took too long to come forcing the client to go down himself and seek help. There is also a talk of ‘yelling’ where the person attending to Dr. Mark at the reception yells at some other people at the back, criticizing them for the mistake. Last but not least, after the clients are finally offered a clean room, they discover it is a downgrade, and to another shock, they are charged extra for the transfer.

How Metz should respond to this letter

According to Kotler (2007), complaint letters are eye openers to the management which enable them take swift action to correct a particular mistake in their organization. Upon receipt of the letter, Metz should take swift action to make sure that clients do not go through an encounter like that again in the future. He could do this in a number of ways. Clearly, there are a few different lines of conflict addressed in this complaint letter. Bearing in mind that the operations of a hotel are centrally organized (Whitelaw, et al, 2009), then correcting the mistakes from the core gets rid of the subsequent ones. In other words, mistakes conducted by employees down either translate to a lapse of management up there or the employees’ own reluctance. Metz should make routine visits and checks, sometimes without notice so as to keep the employees on their toes to avoid laxity. Cleanliness in the rooms is a major point of concern for any hotel industry (Diener et al, 2008). Dirty or unkept rooms keep the clients away. Metz should make sure that the employees understand the importance of keeping these rooms clean. A clear and precise cleaning schedule should be devised to make sure the employees know who is responsible for what room and so on.

Next, communication is also an important aspect in this industry. Customers’ complaints should be handled fast and efficiently. Clients should not be kept waiting for long as the Marks were made to wait. Response should be fast. Mistakes conducted by the employees, like the arbitrary extra charge on the downgraded room should also be apologized for, and the errors reversed to the satisfaction of the clients.

Using this case study as a training vehicle

To avoid a repetition of issues discussed in this case in the ATMI hotels, Metz should use the complaint letter as a training instrument. Employees should be made to understand that the hotel and hospitality business requires the highest possible levels of customer services experiences. Clients should be kept in utter comfort ability so that they can persist coming back and market the hotel to others. The employees should be taught how to avoid all those negative issues addressed in the complaint letter.

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Managing Groups and Teams International Journal of Human Resource Management
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