A Tip for Tuesday – Try Something New
October 19, 2010
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I (Abbie, that is) went to Washington DC for the PRSA International Conference and decided to come in a few days early to take in some of the sites. Thanks to Congressman Mitchell and his staffer Spencer Howard, I was able to get a ticket to see the White House.

I was really looking forward to it. Made sure I got there in plenty of time so I wouldn’t miss my 8:30 tour. Well, me and about 200 other people in the pouring rain showed up for our 8:30 appointment. No worries, I had an umbrella and was happy to chat with the other tourists in line.

That is until we noticed that the line for the 9 and 9:30 a.m. tours were going in ahead of us. Come on, no fair. We followed the rules, got there on time, how come we didn’t get to go in?

Good question and not a single person around to ask. And those of you who know me know that didn’t sit well, but what was I supposed to do? I didn’t want secret service denying me access. So we waited and waited a little more and finally got in around 9:50 a.m.

And you know what? The tour lasted about 15 minutes. It’s not like I expected to hang out with the President or anything, but I did think it would be a bit more comprehensive.

So two customer service lessons:

  • Tell people what’s going on. We’ll wait forever for something we really want if you keep us informed.
  • Set expectations early – maybe it was my fault that I expected more, but there is certainly a way to let your “customer” know what to expect.

Still glad I did it, won’t need to do it again.

Abbie S. Fink
Abbie S. Fink
Vice President/General Manager Abbie has been doing public relations her whole life…from organizing a picket line in 6th grade to organizing client communications today. She’s passionate about a lot of things, you’ll see. Check out Abbie's full bio


  1. Abbie – you do not know HOW TRUE this is. Seems Washington DC in general could use a little customer service training. We HMAers had the brilliant idea to surprise you when you checked into your DC hotel last week on your birthday with balloons or champagne since we coulnd’t be with you for a true celebration. I called the hotel FOUR separate times, each time being given to the front desk, concierge and then to the sales office (which is just a voicemail they apparently never check) simply trying to order a bottle of champagne. We didn’t get ONE call back, nor did we get a call back when I left the manager a message!

  2. Sandra says:

    Before 9/11 you could visit the white house without an appointment. Each room you entered had someone in there (secret service) to ask questions. I was able to go with my sixth grade students and they got a lot out of the tour, the staff was friendly and always willing to chat. It is too bad things had to change. As they say, write a letter to your congressperson and let them know your experience.

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