In baseball, when a team is winning and their relief pitcher comes in around inning #7 to maintain the winning lead, then that relief pitcher is credited with a SAVE.

In small business, this scenario is of little importance. What matters most is if you find yourself in a LOSING situation with a potential customer and you come out with a WIN. Now that’s a true save – or let’s say a RESCUE!

A couple of weekends ago, my wife and I got away for a night to San Antonio. We booked the Omni Hotel in San Antonio through Hotels.com – big mistake. I saw some reviews on Hotels.com and I heard customers saying that when they arrived that the room wasn’t available or that a king-sized bed was changed to a double because, again, “it was not available.” I was leary, but called anyway and questioned the Hotels.com customer service agent who assured me that the way I was booking was somehow going to guarantee my reservation with the hotel. I would have no problems! (I’ll never use Hotels.com again!)

So we arrive late, around 11p after spending a very nice evening on the Riverwalk in beautiful San Antonio. I walked up with my reservation number and my expectations (one room, King sized bed, non-smoking). They got the first part right but said “OK, we’ve had to make some adjustments and we have now got you in a double bed, smoking room.” My Hotels.com representative had fibbed and I was back to wishing I had trusted the reviewers at the Hotels.com site who said these kinds of things would happen.

We were destined to leave the Omni and drive away to find another hotel (though we were not thrilled at this scenario near midnight!) In walked Janet, who I presumed was the hotel manager in charge for that evening. She politely explained how the Omni corporate office works a deal with Hotels.com for a block of rooms, but there is a gap between what they sell and what is really available. She said, “you know when they ask if you have a smoking preference . . . well, to them, it really is just a preference.” Nice.

Janet quickly checked all the available rooms and found a King sized bed but it was still smoking. Smoking? Uh, no, that’s a non-negotiable. But she assembled her cleaning crew and soon discovered that there was a non-smoking room that was recently vacated, but it had just not been cleaned. She scrambled someone to clean it pronto and offered us a cold drink while we waited (we had to maintain our sense of “you better treat us right” but we were relieved not to have to go looking for other hotels at midnight!) A few minutes later, Janet herself handed us two cold water bottles and coupons for a free breakfast buffet. She apologized over and over and kept us up to date as to when the room would be ready. We finally got in around midnight and we couldn’t have been happier.

That was truly a SAVE – an effort by a 5-star employee who went out of her way to make us happy. She made sure we didn’t walk out of that hotel – she knew if we walked out, not only would we likely never return, we might also choose to talk negatively about her hotel. A double whammy! (Think about that reality before you send someone out of your store!) She was not sitting on a winning lead when she stepped up to the mound – this was a game gone bad, but through great customer service, she made a sale in the end! And she convinced me never to use Hotels.com ever again.

What are you doing for your customers? Are you going to great lengths to win their loyalty? For more good stories about great customer service, scroll down on the right sidebar to CATEGORIES (see my screenshot below) and find all the archived blog posts about “Customer Service”. I think you’ll find some helpful insight there.


So what’s your favorite story of great customer service? Did you rescue a sale recently that was headed nowhere? Did someone offer you such great service that you changed your mind at the last minute? I’d love to hear your stories.

– Randy