Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Emotional Intelligence in Customer Service: Assume Good Intent

It was the Monday after a really busy holiday weekend.  We had spent most of the day Friday and Saturday directing the overflow traffic from the Crystal Lake Trailhead toward the overflow parking – and away from our campground.  While most were polite, we did get a few that pushed back.  “We bought a recreation pass.  We should be able to park anywhere in the canyon.”

So when we discovered the lone Toyota occupying a lakeside double site with a recreation pass posted to the site marker, we had had enough.  We wrote a note on the recreation pass that it was not valid in the campground and put it on her windshield.  We moved some belongings to the windshield as well.  Then we noticed that the car’s occupant was asleep in the back seat.  We knocked on the window, waking her up, and proceeded to advise her that she could not park in our $40-a-night campsite.

“I understand that,” she said.  “I stayed up all night and drove here at 3:00 AM so I could get a campsite for my family.  We come here every year, and I wanted to be early enough to get a double site.”  She continued, “It says on the recreation pass envelope to post it on the site post if you are camping.”

We looked.  Sure enough, that’s what it said.  The envelopes were dated 2009; and while the requirement to have a recreation pass in the concessionaire-managed campgrounds was lifted two years ago, the envelopes had not been changed.

We felt terrible.  We apologized profusely and accepted her payment for the campsite.  When she asked about firewood, we went to a campsite that had left a box and brought it to her – free of charge.  We believe we made it right with her.

The bad weekend may have explained our emotional reaction to her presence in the campground, but it was clearly no excuse.  We know better.  How much better it would have been to assume that she planned to camp and to wait for her to wake up before charging in with guns blazing.  If she hadn’t planned on camping, we could have then asked her politely to move. 

A good lesson learned as we proceed to manage this very busy campground.

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