Your frontline employee is more critical than your CEO

May 28, 2019

Your frontline employee is more critical than your CEO.

Recently, I had booked a hotel room for one night on my travel to another city through one of those hotel room aggregators.


I arrived a few minutes early for the check-in. Although I was okay to wait, the Receptionist seemed unhappy that I had arrived early. She offered me a chair quite reluctantly.

Once the check-in formalities were done, I was shown the room.

The TV was not connected, the bedsheets were stained and there were no towels in the bathroom. The complimentary water was missing and I wasn’t given the room key.

As and when I discovered these service gaps, I kept the hotel staff informed. They never responded or responded very late. For instance, the TV was connected fairly quickly but it took a long time for the water bottles to arrive. I never received the room key – I was told that a guest had taken the key along and had gone out of town.

I was staying for just one night. Given my experience with the hotel, I was not sure of the room service food quality and therefore, ordered in food through a food aggregator – this option worked out well.

The next morning, I checked out.

Customer feedback

While checking out, I asked for the Manager. The Receptionist told me that he was not available. Anyway, I provided my feedback to the Receptionist. She was emotionless. Obviously, she had not received even a rudimentary training on customer service.

Anyway, as I checked out and took the cab, I received a request for feedback from the hotel room aggregator. After filling in the feedback, I submitted it. Later, I received a message that the review had been published on the site, which, indeed, had been.

I have always believed in providing honest feedback sans drama in such cases. It is important for the service provider to hear of the customer’s feedback. I believe that service providers who do not like to hear from a customer irrespective of what the customer wishes to say are in the wrong business.

In this case, the feedback was for both the hotel room aggregator and for the hotel. In the normal course, I would have never ended up at this hotel. It was not in one of those ‘visible’ areas. It was the aggregator who had put this hotel up on their map and ‘recommended’ it to me. Therefore, the aggregator ought to be held accountable.

I raise 3 critical points:

  1. The front office employee is the face of the organization. In this kind of industry, he or she is the first point of contact for the customer. The hotel needs to have a smart and well-trained person placed behind the front-desk. They need to look at it as an investment. The front office employee is an advertisement for the hotel.
  2. Feedback is a gift. In a way, a feedback giver is actually on the service provider’s side, helping the service provider see critical things that may be hidden. A feedback provider is a savior. I have written a post on this viewpoint. Do read it here.
  3. An aggregator is not playing the role of a Notice Board in an apartment’s Resident Welfare Association office where residents can put up buy-and-sell notices. Such transactions are based on the principle of Caveat Emptor – let the buyer beware. However, in the case of the Business Model of such aggregators, an aggregator is also recommending a particular service provider. A recommendation is a powerful thing. It carries the power of the aggregator’s Brand. Consequently, when a customer acts on such a recommendation, he is riding on trust.

When it comes to customer service, your frontline employee is more critical than your CEO.

Because your customers get to meet your frontline employee and not your CEO.


Does this story resonate with your experience? Happy to hear from you. Do let me know at [email protected]

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