WATERVILLE — Doreen Brown loves people.
She exudes enthusiasm when she talks about customers she meets at Hampton Inn on Kennedy Memorial Drive, where she is a guest services representative. They include senators, congressmen, writers and government officials from countries all over the world.
“Colby College attracts a lot of dignitaries,” she said. “It’s amazing how incredibly kind those people are.”
What Brown has learned about people from all walks of life is that they all just really want to be treated the way she likes people to treat her. She takes the extra time to get to know hotel guests and what their needs and wants are, is compassionate and tries to make them feel welcome and important.
“It’s easy to be nice when so many people are nice in return,” she said.
It is Brown’s penchant for exceptional customer service and pride in her job that has netted her the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce’s 2013 Customer Service Stardom Award.
She will receive it April 29 at the chamber’s annual awards dinner at Waterville Elks Banquet & Conference Center.
Nicole Desjardins, director of sales for Hampton Inn and past chairman of the chamber’s board of directors, said Brown takes the time to find out something about her customers before they arrive at the hotel so that she can converse with them knowledgeably. She also goes the extra mile to help them in any way possible, yet she does not take credit for it.
“What absolutely baffles me about her is that customer service is her top priority always, but to her, it is not hard — it’s easy,” Desjardins said. “It’s easy to go above and beyond, but she never thinks she goes above and beyond.”
Brown, 59, of Norridgewock, has worked at Hampton Inn nine years.
She handles all incoming guests and inquiries, answers phones and makes reservations, among other things.
“I think I answer probably between 20 and 80 phone calls a day. It depends on how busy we are,” Brown said, adding that she estimates she has taken about 55,000 reservations in her nine years.
The daughter of a U.S. Navy man, Brown moved around a lot in her younger years and graduated in 1973 from Skowhegan Area High School — the only year she attended that school. She married and had a daughter and worked many years with people who have developmental disabilities at both Ken-A-Set and Sebasticook farms, two organizations that ultimately merged to form Skills Inc.
Those who know Brown say she works hard and has an engaging personality and a positive attitude.
She received Hampton Inn’s Spirit of Pride Award, for which she won a trophy she keeps on the counter where she works. The award for outstanding service is given to only 240 employees in more than 1,900 hotels worldwide. She also won the company’s “Catch Me at My Best” contest for an exceptional act of customer service.
Desjardins recalled a time when a man staying at the hotel was going to attend a big event at Colby College but did not know how to tie a necktie. Brown Googled it, found a demonstration on YouTube, learned how to do it and tied the man’s tie for him.
“She thinks that’s no big deal — that’s just what you do,” Desjardins said.
She said Brown “owns” her job, is proactive and really understands the definition of customer service.
“She really knows what it looks like,” Desjardins said. “Our staff wants to be more like Doreen.”