Lots of companies have invested in online chat services as an alternative to phone service, but in many cases, personal connection and good service are the price one pays for convenience. In fact, since live chats became an option for customer service, I can count exactly one time where I spoke with a personable representative--and that one time was earlier tonight, with one of Marriott's web chat agents.
That said, I was enough impressed by that agent that I've decided to come here and recommend a Spirit to Serve award, but I feel it's important to recognize when someone truly stands out. I have a tremendous amount of respect for someone who, even working in the grueling, mind-numbing world of customer service, spends extra time minutes getting to know a customer, picks up on their personality and responds in kind, and actually seems genuinely interested in helping--even with a trivial issue where the answer may be a non-answer.
Despite web chat being the customer service platform from which I would expect less, I can honestly say this was the most refreshing conversation I've had with any hotel chain's customer service, including the rest of Marriott. Chat presents a challenge contacts tend to last longer as agents are expected to serve other customers. This is one of the few times I've seen an agent turn that into an advantage. In this case, the lengthy chat felt like the result of a casual conversation, rather than a overtasked agent.
I strongly encourage that, even if this nomination ends here, this kind of customer service should be acknowledged and used to inspire others to have the same attitude. The interaction went a far beyond "customer focused" in my mind, and crossed over into the area of being a customer advocate as well as a personal concierge--both of which are qualities I would never expect to find in a web-based chat.