I've been on the receiving end of lots of customer service lately. Some was good, some was mediocre, while some was bad. Being at the receiving end reinforced what customers are looking for. I'll definitely keep these experiences in mind when I'm working. To make for manageable reading, I've broken it into three parts.
Hotels: of course you're going to get a better room when you pay more money. The difference between a $40 room and a $90 room is HUGE. (Hint: $40 rooms are a little scary!) But at the cheaper hotel the desk clerk said the room number aloud not once, but twice, with another person nearby. At the moderately priced hotel the clerk gave us directions to the room by drawing a line on the hotel map, circling the room number, and writing it on the bottom of the map. That's the way it's done. If I had been traveling by myself, at the first place I would have refused the room (even though it was the last of its type). With a companion, it was only slightly unsafe, and we were tired.
Restaurants: two nationally known chains, both moderately nice places. At the one with the better reputation, the waiter was overly attentive to the point of being annoying, and then argued over prices when the menu was unclear. The manager ended up revising the ticket, but will I be back? Probably not soon. The restaurant known more for family meals had a waiter who pointed out the specials, warned us that the kitchen was a little backed up, but if we were in a hurry he could speed our order through. No, we're on vacation. No hurry. Take your time. The food arrived just as fast as at the other place, with a clear menu/ticket. The restaurant had better lighting, better food, and was a better experience. The waiter was attentive, but let us have a nice conversation without interrupting every five minutes. I had never been there before, but if there's one in my area, I will definitely be back.