From my perspective, there has been a general focus on “customer service” in the travel industry over the past few years, probably thanks to the recession. I think it’s great when companies focus on customer service, though more often than not, I find the focus to be on superficial “satisfaction” metrics and buzz words instead of actually improving the shortcomings of a company.
A year ago I posted about how frustrating I found hotel surveys to be. You stay at a three star hotel, and instead of asking whether you were satisfied with your stay, they simply want the highest ratings in everything.
[email protected] sends in something interesting he noticed at the Hilton Toronto, whereby they have two key drop boxes. One box reads “I was extremely satisfied with my experience,” and the other box reads “my experience did not exceed my expectations.”
[email protected], like any good travel industry citizen, dropped his key in the “my experience did not exceed my expectations” box. Why? He stayed at the hotel a handful of times before, knew what to expect, and the stay met his expectations. Why, as a guest, should he have to flatter the hotel by telling them the stay exceeded his expectations? As a matter of fact, I think the world’s best hotels meet customers’ expectations, because customers come in with high expectations and they’re met.
There are just so many buzz phrases in the travel industry that mean, well, nothing.
Another frustration of mine is when I call a certain major hotel chain and am greeted in an entirely apathetic voice by someone saying “and with whom do I have the pleasure of speaking with today?” Thank me for my business if you’d like, but I screech every time I’m greeted that way, since there typically isn’t the slightest bit of sincerity in their voice. Of course I can’t blame them for that, since they probably take over 100 calls a day.
It’s the same thing when you call credit card companies. Many answer with “and what can I do to exceed your expectations today?” or “what can I do to make your day great?”
I guess my point is, I’d much rather see fewer buzz words and more sincere service. Instead of asking whether my stay exceeded my expectations in a scripted voice, ask me, in a personable way, how my stay was. Any company that wants honest feedback wouldn’t ask leading questions. If I rave about one employee or one part of my stay, mention you’re happy to hear that and that you’ll pass on my feedback. If I complain about a serious issue, don’t just say “oh, okay.”
In other words, do what Delta is doing — send people to charm school! Don’t teach your employees how to learn scripts, teach them to be sincere (or hire sincere people to begin with, preferably).