Customer Service Excellence: Horseshoe Valley Resort

11718515_sAm I nuts or are our customer service expectations a little out of whack?

Whether it be hotels, restaurants, or the corner drug store it seems the one thing that guarantees returning business has been dropped. It’s like it isn’t even expected anymore and we all seem to be adjusting, no questions asked. Maybe it’s not even intentional, sometimes more than not; we are met with no personality at all, just pushing people through the money machine as fast as they can because actual engaging could slow up the line.

I have essentially been in customer service since I was fifteen years old. Through my teenage years you can bet there were times behind the cash when I was less than enthusiastic to be there. I’ve been guilty of judging customers, feeling put out or producing a heavy sigh now and then. Let’s face it, people can be super annoying and we at times can be completely self absorbed. So I get the teen with the part time job who would rather be anywhere else but working, but it doesn’t mean its okay.

I hate to sound so negative but we’re now at a point if we are given good customer service we are actually astounded.

Case in point, we just took a trip to Barrie, Ontario for a hockey tournament. One of the group activities off the ice was to go tubing at Horseshoe Valley Resort.  We got to the front desk to get our tickets and were met with warm greetings and instant service. Without being asked they directed us to the tubing hills and told us what to expect.

What I expected was to ride up with 15 overly hyper kids, to be met by three or four annoyed teenagers whose job it was to let us know when the track was clear with a slight nod from their expressionless heads.

What we got were enthusiastic teenage boys who stood all weekend at the top of a tubing hill in freezing temperatures, pulling and spinning hundreds of pounds of people down a hill on a tube. It’s tough work. It would be easy to be moody; especially when you have an entire hockey team of sugar filled ten years olds yelling orders at you. But, they laughed, smiled and accommodated us for two hours and not once did I see an eye roll or a bad attitude.

“Hey guys, why you don’t try going backwards in a train?”

“Do want to go fast, faster or warp speed?”

“Big spin, little spin or no spin?”

Every. Time. For two hours.

Their manager was never too far away. He was involved, engaged and probably worked harder than the kids. He acknowledged you, laughed with your kids, yet his eyes and ears were open and throughout our time he helped and chatted with many people. The bottom line, he led by example and it was working.

We were so impressed we went back the next day. The kids went tubing and I decide to rent some shoeshoes and give it a try. Again we were greeted with enthusiasm. I had never snowshoed before so there was a level of anxiety around doing something new. Before I even got to a trail I had one person stop me to put them on properly (because I’m an idiot). Then a few more directed me to the trails, suggest scenic routes and generally made me feel welcome. It was a great experience.

I want to go back and try the cross-country trails and spa. The kids want to go skiing and tubing and to spend the night in the hotel. In the summer there’s golf, biking, zip lining and an adventure park.

You see how customer service works?

So in honour of spectacular customer service I thought I would write a blog, but then I thought why not write about every good customer service experience I come across? Maybe it could generate a little cosmic movement. So I’m dedicating a column to outstanding customer service. I mean the stuff that really stands out. I’m putting it where my book reviews used to be because let’s face it; it has taken a nose dive.

So if you have had a recent (or not so recent) great customer service experience, let me know in the comments, maybe I’ll take a visit (if it’s close) and add them to the list. And if you get a chance to check out Horseshoe Valley you won’t be disappointed. If you don’t believe me check out the many positive reviews here.

They’re doing something right.

You want Spring? Wear Your Shorts.

It’s the last week of March and if you live in Ontario, Canada that means you start the Spring push. It’s the time of year we’re so frustrated with snow and cold that we cosmically try to change the weather by wearing inappropriate clothing. This morning I saw a couple of people walking their dogs in long sleeved shirts, hats, scarves and shorts. It was still below zero, but I understood their game plan. If Winter is being stubborn, as Canadians we must take matters into our own hands and push back. So get mad people! Get out your flip flops and suck it up.

There’s a reason Winter is portrayed in movies and fairy tales as a grumpy old man.  Just like any grumpy old man, at first you find him amusing, you play along doing your best to ignore his cackling. Then he starts to wear on you and you begin to mirror his grumpiness. Finally you can’t take it anymore and you snap (hence, shorts with hats) and you seek some more enjoyable company.

The good news is Spring is coming and if Winter is a grumpy old man, Spring is an overly enthusiastic aerobics instructor with a pony tail. It’s bouncy, light, and airy and she’s heading our way. You know how I know? At my house there are always tell tale signs.

  1. There’s only a pin head size dot of polish on my big toe leftover from my August pedicure.
  2. The snow is melting in the back yard and I can see all the land bombs (dog poop) I’ve neglected to pick up in three months
  3. Baseball hats are littering the house. On every level. On every surface.
  4. The big stinky hockey bag that is always in the dining room has now been replaced by a big stinky baseball bag.
  5. The Boy has stopped wearing pajama pants and is walking around the house shirtless. Related: I see a reality show in his future.
  6. I’m starting to hoard exercise videos again.
  7. The dirt on the windows is mocking me.
  8. The winter boots have gone from being an unorganized pile in front of the door, to a heap in the bottom of the closet along with hats, mitts and scarves waiting to be shoved into one big “Winter” bag.
  9. MUD – on the floor, on the dog, on the car…
  10. I have an intense need to paint everything and have already begun my weekly trips to Home Depot.

Yup, it’s coming. And it’s not just me. These kinds of posts are showing up on Pinterest.

So have no fear, Spring will be here soon in all her yoga pants and scrunchie glory and the only one who can take her down is the Biotch, the mean girl we call Summer who brings the heat and takes her out, so jealous of Spring she frizzes her hair and makes her cry all the way home.

Welcome Winter (Sort of)

I’m not a big winter person. There’s just not much in it for me. When I was a kid, it was a different story, but only because I had this awesome green snow suit with silver patches that made me look like Mork from Ork (Yes, I know his suit was “red” but I lived in the country and needed a good imagination)… AND I had a snowmobile with plenty of empty fields to run it in, but now I’m in a city with nothing more than a plastic sled from Wal-Mart.

I do enjoy watching winter sports, but sadly I suck at absolutely all of them. First of all, I can’t skate.  My brain refuses to transmit any rhythmical movement to my legs and I end up with an awkward step, step, glide situation that’s graceless and sans attractive.

I really, truly want to be one of those people that can careen down a mountain on two sticks without a care in the world, but I’m better off being the one by the fire with a fake
cast and a hot toddy.

Two years ago I went skiing for the first time with some girlfriends. I was having a real hoot until I was over taken with a false sense of security and left the bunny hill to go with them up a lift. Well, naturally I fell to the ground as soon as my skis hit the snow and couldn’t get up. I had to roll out of the way of oncoming passengers which made me laugh so hard I peed my snow pants. My last memory of that hill was my friend’s voice calling out, “Oh My…Oh Goodness… PIIIZZZAAAA”….

So with seeing the first flakes of snow fall recently I felt I better nip this negative attitude in the bud or it will be a long, cold winter. So I decided to make a list of 10 things I like about it so I can refer back when I’m cursing my frozen car doors.

  1. Red Wine – There is hardly anything better than a cold night and a nice glass of Boudreaux…or five. The glass is all so romantic and stylish looking. What isn’t so great is the headache that follows, but as a woman I’m more than willing to feel a little discomfort in order to be fashionable.
  2. Christmas Trees – I love them. They possess the same meditative relaxation as a camp fire. Unfortunately, they don’t provide warmth unless you set them on fire, which is obviously, frowned upon.
  3. Falling – There is nothing I love more than seeing a total jerkface slip on a piece of black ice and bust his ass.  Side note: Even if you aren’t a jerkface, I’ll still laugh. Sorry, but it’s hard wired in my system, no offense. I will help you up though just as soon as I get control of myself.
  4. Snow Storms – Really deep down, I love them. I only hate them when I have to drive, but since I’m technically unemployed for at least part of this winter, I’ll enjoy watching them while secretly mocking the working class people in the traffic jam on TV. Karma’s a bitch, I know.
  5. Shovelling – Only if it isn’t stupid cold out. There’s really a sense of community on my street when we all go out to shovel after a big snow. For that moment we’re living in a Norman Rockwell painting and forget about all the crap we hate each other for.
  6. Snowballs – I`m probably the worst mother ever but I love pelting my kids with snowballs. It’s the only time you get to abuse them so take advantage. Of course when they get older you’re in for shit loads of trouble so enjoy your time while their young.
  7. Christmas – This year I swear to like it. Past years have been so stressful with all the prep work and working full time; it really makes a woman resent it. Well, this year I say screw it; I’m going to like you Christmas…I’m even going to bake regardless if it sucks.
  8. Winter Wear – This is awesome. Now when I bring my kids to school, I don`t necessarily have to be “completely” dressed. I can still be sporting my penguin pyjama top with no bra under my coat. I don’t even have to brush my hair, just shove a hat on and get going.
  9. Sweaters – A tag on #8. Sweaters allow you the freedom to not worry about your back fat or your chicken wing underarm for a few months… if you get one large enough.
  10. Tobogganing– There is nothing more pleasant than watching someone (usually a middle aged man) try to make recreational tobogganing an Olympic event. Watching them call on their own eight year old boy with nothing more than a piece of plastic and whiskey in their veins makes my heart sing. There is truly nothing better.

And that’s it. I can’t think of one other single thing Winter is good for, can you?