I have written before about the importance of customer service to the growth of a business. If your service is sub-par, or worse, all of your awards, accolades, strategic plans, and sales excellence are for nothing. You simply cannot sustainably grow your business without superior customer service.
Recently, I took a quick weekend trip away with my wife and youngest daughter. The reason for the trip was that my wife and daughter had airline vouchers that needed to be used before they expired. They received these vouchers nearly a year ago when their flight on the way to our oldest daughter’s college graduation was delayed for several hours at the gate and tarmac. Fortunately, they were flying the day before the graduation!
To the airline’s credit, the flight attendants sensed the frustration of their passengers and handed out travel vouchers to everyone on the plane. In baseball terms, they were still up to bat with a chance at a home run on their next flight experience “swing” with my wife and daughter. So, back to our recent weekend trip. When my wife and daughter arrived at their departure gate they were greeted by the display showing a short delay. Not what they hoped for but a 10 – 20 minute delay is nothing that can’t be made up in the air.
When the announced boarding time came and went the gate staff announced that the flight would be delayed indefinitely “for mechanical reasons.” They proceeded to let passengers know of the departure times of the next couple flights to the same, or nearby, cities. My wife and daughter were automatically transferred to the next scheduled flight out without being given the option of making that choice. Sounds like that could be a good thing, right? In the few minutes it took them to walk to the departure gate of their new flight, it was announced that this next flight out was delayed by over 1 hour. To make matters worse, their original flight’s delay had been resolved and that flight was set to board in a few short minutes. In seeming to “help” a customer, the airline actually made them significantly worse off.
By the time my wife and daughter finally arrived at our destination city, a short weekend trip had become a hurried 24 hours before our return flights. They were very frustrated with the hassle they had been through. Oh, and the airline’s immediate response to this series of delays? Nothing initially, until my wife complained at which the gate agent gave her a $50 voucher. $50!?! It took a couple phone calls after the trip to receive an additional $100 voucher. A bit too little, too late.
Strike two! You’re out!
I know, it’s 3 strikes for an out in baseball. Well, customer service isn’t baseball. While the founders of the great game of baseball felt a batter should get three chances to hit the ball, customers aren’t nearly so generous. So as we speed toward Memorial Day and the beginning of the 3rd season of the Five Seasons of Business (see http://dtaylorgroup.com/blog/the-5-seasons-of-the-financial-industry), take some time to assess your customer service. Are you treating each of your customers in the superior nature that they deserve? Do you correct mistakes quickly and do everything possible to return your clients to a positive emotional state? Now is the time to correct any flaws or shortcomings with your customer service efforts. You won’t get past Strike Two!
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