Recently I had a conversation with a girlfriend about the pitfalls of adequate customer service. Have you ever been blown away by the level of attention given by a customer experience team? Becoming a brand ambassador, you rave endlessly about them only to be underwhelmed on your next visit.
are we entitled to good service?
In this age of hyper-sensitivities and general sense of entitlement, I can’t help but question if customers expect too much, or if service providers are giving too little? Maybe we are all holding others to unattainable goals.
I believe that we deserve to be treated fairly by those who serve. It should not matter how expensive the product or service is. For example, whenever I am bamboozled into getting my 14 year-old son McDonalds, I am courteously greeted by the attendant. When she hands me the bag of steaming junk food, she always smiles and says, “thank you and please come back again.”
Granted, her speech is scripted, but it is still polite and welcoming. As a consumer, I have many choices where to buy a burger. McDonalds does not make the most incredible burger (that would be in-n-out), but other than consistency it is the customer service that will bring me back.
Expected customer experience at a fast-food joint is far less than at a fine dining establishment. However, service is as service does (thank you Forrest Gump). Through offering a more pleasant experience, I will more likely be drawn in.
let’s kick it up a notch
Now back to the original conversation with my friend. Last week she spent a couple of nights at a spa/hotel/resort where she is a frequent guest. When she arrived at the hotel, there was an error in her reservations. Rather than correct the problem, they apologized and moved on. That’s it folks!
She felt brushed off by the reservation clerk, and rightfully so. To me it is irrelevant that this friend is a frequent guest. What does matter is that they basically ignored the opportunity to make things right. Instead, they left her with the impression that she was less than important.
It is not that her stay at the hotel was unsatisfactory, but it was unremarkable. What was glorious before, had lost its luster. The rest of the weekend seemed bland and nothing really made up for the blunder made at the beginning of her stay.
by the light of the green lantern…
OK, its my turn! A few months back I went to Las Vegas for a convention and stayed at a suite in the MGM Grand. All was well until my friends (and roommates) and I were ready to go to sleep. The auto-blinds would not descend and if you have ever seen the MGM at night, you know that the whole thing is lit up with obnoxious emerald green lights.
I was so exhausted that I had no trouble falling asleep. My friends couldn’t get past the eery glow and hardly slept. We all woke up feeling fairly unrested and when I jumped first into the shower, I was immediately blasted with cold water that never warmed. At least I wasn’t tired anymore. The shock of the freezing water woke me right up.
When we headed to the concierge, we were at first disappointed that we could not change rooms, but they offered to send up a repairman to fix the problems. This was great for the next night, but what about the one we just encountered?
Note: here is the big difference between the following episode and that of my friend’s. The concierge was unable to refund us for the night’s stay but as a consolation, he awarded us the same value in dining credit.
We planned to stay all three nights in the hotel and eat exclusively there as well. This was a fair trade for all involved. The hotel did not lose anything (I’m sure they have lots of comps to hand out to VIP players) and we left satisfied with the outcome. Remarkable service intact + happy guest/customer = repeat business.
lesson learned: always take care of the customer!!
Mistakes happen, life happens, bad luck happens. Yada yada yada. No one expects perfection. What we want is to be taken care of regardless of the why. Provide the extra bit that differentiates you as a remarkable business. Whatever it looks like whether it is thanking the customer and asking him to come back or fixing a known issue, the end payoff is greater than the few dollars or extra time it took to correct.
Share your thoughts and stories about a remarkable or unremarkable experience you may have had. What did they do that made them memorable? What kind of missed opportunities were there? What would you do differently?