Dear travel industry: please provide good service, don’t talk about it!

I’ve been noticing a trend lately in the travel industry (at least with the airlines and hotel chains I frequent), and I can’t quite figure out what purpose it serves. For example, the last few times I have called United web support, they have ended the call with the following line:

“You may be transferred to a survey, where the sixth question will ask how you would rate your overall experience with me today. Just for my own information, I would like to know how you would rate me from one to five.” Now, that puts me in a bit of an awkward situation. I’m talking to an outsourced call center that’s trying to tell me a United flight between Washington Dulles and Chicago is actually operated by Continental, and if I wanted to fly United I’d have to go through Houston. So obviously their knowledge sucks, but it’s not their fault. I don’t want to make them feel bad, so I say “five,” since they’re doing the best they can. But what purpose does this serve?

Another example. I checked out of a Hyatt this morning. At check-out I was asked “have you experienced excellent customer service during your stay?” First of all, it sounded incredibly unnatural asking that question. Second of all, I really didn’t. The service was good. Nothing was wrong, but I didn’t receive excellent service. Maybe I just have high standards, but there’s a difference between good service and excellent service.

But in the bigger picture, what’s the point of this? Why not just provide good service to begin with, and by all means ask about the stay, but do so in a natural and logical way, like “did you enjoy your stay with us?”

And speaking of my Hyatt stay, there was a Southern Baptist convention at the hotel the same time I was there. NEVER stay at a hotel when 99% of the guests are attending one of these unless you enjoy singing in the elevators (and by that I mean someone riding the elevator for an hour just to share her “Gift from God” with the rest of the riders).

Filed Under: Travel
  1. Was it the Hyatt St. Louis? Stayed there earlier this week and the place was packed to the brim with a southern church group.

  2. If Hyatt asked me, I would tell them why their service was just “good”, not “excellent”. I think some of them honestly don’t know. This is assuming that I’m not isn some kind of rush…

    I would tell the call center agent too. I know the calls are recorded and sometimes reviewed. They need to hear the feedback or else they will assume the lack of training is not an issue. Most people who call that call center mould probably just believe the agents wrong information and then be very mad when they find out the truth at the airport!

  3. I know exactly what you are feeling like.

    The line that I can’t stand at the end of a call is “Is there anything else I can help you with today?” Half the time the person asking that guestion has not helped with my issue previously during the call. So since you didn’t help me, don’t act like you did help.

    Now granted this is how these folks are instructed to end the call, but when they can’t help and then ask this it is extremely frustrating. It would be so much better if they were given the leaway to end a call with a successful resoultion with that wording, but then again if they were higher level thinkers they likely wouldn’t be on the back end of phone calls all day.

  4. I have noticed this lately with the ICC. Earlier in the week I gave the guy a 3. When he asked why I explained that it took 25 minutes to do a transaction which could have been done online in 90 seconds, if their website worked. Additionally, he put me on hold three times and each time asked if he could put me on hold for 2 minutes. Not once was the hold time 2 minutes; it was 4, 6, and 8 minutes instead. I explained when you tell a customer that they will be on hold for 2 minutes, it should be 2 minutes or you should come back on the line and tell them how much longer it will be. Otherwise, the best thing to do is to ask the customer to hold for several minutes while you speak to a supervisor or whatever. That way the customer isn’t staring at the clock at the 2 minute mark wondering if the CSR is ever coming back on the phone. He thanked me for my input and then asked if he could put me on hold for 2 minutes to connect me to his supervisor! I couldn’t stop laughing; although it actually was 2 minutes that time. I then spoke with the supervisor explaining why the 2 minute thing was bad and he thought my recommendations were excellent and then gave me an ecert for my suggestion. I noted when calling last night that the CSR did not ask me to hold for 2 minutes, instead asked me to hold while she spoke with her supervisor and she would be back to me as soon as possible. So next time be truthful and you could get an ecert out of it! šŸ˜‰

  5. Limited experience with this, but I have a sneaking suspicion (based on my unscientific small sample) that telling the agent you’re planning to rate him/her on the low site is a great way NOT to get transferred to the survey.

  6. The questions I get asked by the front desk clerks at Hyatt never seem natural. It seems as though they are forcing the idea of “being social” on their employees. “Did you have an easy trip in today?” I may have come from the other Hyatt on the other side of town. And, when you are asked the same “unnatural” sounding question over and over and over….it seems even more mechanical.

  7. LOL – was at the Hyatt Dallas this past week and had to suffer through a Baptist church convention AND a Mary Kay convention – can’t decide which one was worse!

  8. Lucky, in Australia, we wouldn’t tolerate church going zealots singing in a hotel lift. After the first time, you’d probably find the guy bound with duct tape.

    And the next time someone asks you “Is there anything else I can help you with today?” say this.

    “Well yes there is as a matter of fact. I’ve been having some erectile dysfunction issues and you look like the sort of person who probably has them as well…”

    Works equally well on men and woman…

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