The X factor in customer service - W. Short Hotel Group - Human Experience

Last school holidays, we took our kids to Dark Spectrum, a light show in the underground tunnels at Wynyard in Sydney. This in itself was an awesome experience, but is not the purpose of my story today.

After trying to work out somewhere fun to take the kids for dinner afterwards, I decided to book us a table at The Glenmore, one of the amazing W Short Hotel venues right near Sydney Harbour. Of course, W Short Hotel has been a client of Human Experience for the last 7 years. Our team mystery shops at every venue every month. I knew the kids would love the food and the views of the harbour, so it would be perfect!

I didn’t want to ask any favours or make a fuss, so I booked a table for 5 under my personal email address and maiden name for 6 p.m., just to make sure no one would recognise my name.

For the record, this was not a mystery shop; I was legit going there with my family because I love the place. I just didn’t want any special treatment (people go a little weird if they know I own a mystery shopping company when they’re serving me).

The issue came when Dark Spectrum finished early at 5 p.m. (not 5:45 p.m. as we had expected) and we were all starting to get a little hangry. So we made our way up to the rooftop at the Glenmore, thinking getting a table earlier than 5 p.m. shouldn’t be a problem. Of course, on a Thursday night, the rooftop is fully booked from 4 pm to 6 pm with after-work drinks, and there’s not a spare seat in the house, so I could not have been more wrong!

It was 5:15 p.m., and two of us were nearly mute with hunger by this stage.

The host was lovely and apologised that she could not accommodate us, but she explained that we could go downstairs and she’d come down to get us as soon as a table became available. It obviously was not her fault that we were close to an hour early, but I loved how she owned the situation and had a solution for us.

We went downstairs, where the bar was almost full and there was not a table big enough for five in the public bar available. I sensed some panic in my party of five, knowing that hangry can turn bad very quickly in our family.

The lovely waitress behind the bar saw what was going on (potentially sensing our desperation), and she told us we could go and sit in one of the private function rooms as there were two rooms vacant. We ordered some drinks and some bowls of chips, which arrived super quickly and enabled us to come back to life and relax. The kids thought our own function room was quite the boon!

At around 5:40 pm, the host from the rooftop came and found us and told us she had a table for us. She brought a tray with her and helped us carry our drinks (there was zero food left over by this point).

Everything else about our experience at the Glenmore that night was excellent. Everyone who served us was super friendly, from the waitress behind the rooftop bar to the waiter who brought our meals and cleared our table. The host checked in on how our meals were, which were delicious, and my son is still raving about his chicken burger!

At no time during my visit to the Glenmore did any of the staff recognise me; in fact, none of them had any reason to know who I was at all, outside of recognising my fall name (which I did not use). I was just another average customer.

An average customer who received bloody awesome service!

And that’s what you can expect at any W Short Hotel Group venue on any given day.

And how can I be so certain? Because for seven years, we’ve mystery-shopped every venue every month. These guys take that feedback on board; they have coaching conversations with their teams. They make improvements where they’re needed, and they reward and recognise their team members.

Every report at every venue scores above 90% every time we mystery shop. This is a representation of what is happening with their customers, and it’s why they are killing it!

It’s why the host handled our early arrival so brilliantly. It’s why the waitress felt empowered to take care of us and offer us a seat in an empty function room. It’s why every element of our experience was exceptional.

I emailed the team at W Short the next day and shared my experience as the woman who owns the mystery shopping business and who wasn’t mystery shopping her client but was so proud and excited to report back just how amazing my visit was.

This customer service experience was not a once-off. This is a representation of how customers are treated at all W Short Hotel Group venues. And this is why I love what we do, because the businesses that are dedicated to doing the work will reap the rewards and the results that come with it.

Nic McClanachan, September 2023

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