Customer Service is Alive and Well, Just Not Everywhere

You would think with business as challenging as it is that people would be trying to hold on to their customers for dear life. I keep reading and keep writing about how important referral business is and blah, blah… but things don’t look so good to me. 

Taxco Sterling is a kiosk in the airport that sells sterling silver jewelry. Nice sterling silver, literally hundreds of pieces of sterling silver. Squash blossom necklaces that go for $1000 and other very nice stuff. The other day I am in the Dulles Airport looking for a birthday present and stop at Taxco. As I’m looking through the jewelry I find I can’t read the prices. Why? Because the numbers are worn. Now people in the airport are in a hurry, don’t have much time and don’t have time for this. Especially when the one woman behind the counter has three customers. I don’t want to build a long term relationship with her — I just want to buy a pair of earrings! And by the way, buy one at the regular price and the other is ½ off. The only problem is I have to keep interrupting the other customers to ask the sales clerk for the prices. I point out that I can’t read the prices and it’s a problem and she not only agrees but I’m not the first to tell her! Do they have too much business or am I supposed to be a psychic? 

Tequileria is one of my favorite airport eateries. I like the mango salad with tomatillos tart and spicy. I like it so much that I sometimes I buy another one to go. So I am in the Baltimore airport and I tell the server how much I love the salad. In fact I love it so much I fly through Baltimore just so I can have the salad and fly Southwest. She looks straight at me and says, we were thinking of taking it off the menu because no one likes it, and none of the staff likes it! Hey, nothing like making the customer feel good. 

So my next customer story takes me to the Gaylord Hotel at the Mohawk Color Center Convention. Unlike the other Gaylord Hotels, this one should provide a guide dog when you check in so you can find your way around. I had two missed wake up calls and on the last day there were no shuttles to the airport — even though I had booked it the day before. So Sunday I wander over to the concierge for my trip to the airport and she says, sorry, you don’t have a ride. Of course I don’t! It goes along with the missed wake up calls. The concierge says don’t worry, I will get you the Super Shuttle and you will be on your way at 10. At 10 a.m. there is a suited man in the lobby carrying a sign with my name on it and says I am here to pick you up from Super Shuttle; I notice it is a limo and not my favorite electric blue van. I get in and ask the driver what I am doing in the car and he says we’re part of Super Shuttle and I was told to pick you up. I ask him how much and he says $130.00 one way. I start telling him I can’t pay $130.00 and he says it’s charged to the hotel and I say "is it charged to my room?" I call the hotel and the concierge says it’s our gift to you. We screwed up three times and we want to make it right, I wanted to surprise you that’s why I didn’t tell you. Nice!

So what does this all mean to you? 

  • Pay attention to your customers. If she says not having prices on the merchandise is a pain, listen. In fact, pay her the courtesy of writing it down. If the changes make sense, change it. 
  • Nobody needs your negative opinion. The federal government has more than enough bad press and negative ideas. Unless our product ignites and bursts into flames after you purchase it keep your opinions to yourself. “Hey it ignites, get rid of it.” Most people like being accepted for their purchases. 
  • Empower your customer to have their own stimulus packages. The concierge has her own bailout and so she should. The people at the Southwest counter never cease to amaze me. I noticed that Southwest was now flying to Minneapolis—Northwest Country. I remarked how cold it was there to which the clerk replied, "wherever our customers go, we go. We love them!" When was the last time your employee said that about you—when you weren’t around?  
  • Let your employees be creative. Drummer/chef Jeff Neal at Opryland is sitting in the lobby playing the pots, pans and silverware! I ask him why are you doing it and he says, because they let us.
    If you trust them, let them be. If you don’t, find someone else that you do trust! 
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