A Tale of Excellent Service

On our trip, we booked with Southwest and ended up on an AirTran flight for the last leg of our trip.

Upon arrival in the terminal in Baltimore, everything seemed okay. But apparently there were mechanical problems with the airplane. It could have been a very, very bad experience but it wasn’t… aside from the people who missed their cruise ship… AirTran did a great job making things right.

Here’s the Friday Five of what how they won at customer service:

1. They kept us all informed about delays and when they were going to give another update.

2. They gave an update when they said they would. At one point they came to give an update and the lady said, “The update I have for you all is that there is no update, they are still inspecting the plane.”

3. They gave us vouchers for lunch ($10 a passenger). Since we already ate lunch, we went over to the Mexican restaurant got a drink and some chips and queso dip for an afternoon snack.

Drinks courtesy of the airline

Continue reading

Whatever happened to customer service?

If you haven’t noticed by now, I appreciate good customer service and get upset with poor service. I haven’t really ranted about customer service for awhile so…

48-Hours to Schedule an Oil Change

When I needed to schedule an oil change, I went to the dealership website and they direct all service appointments to this online scheduling form… as in you can’t call the service department directly or find how to make an appointment if you don’t want to do the form. So I filled in the form and waited more than 24 hours. I heard nothing… so I called the dealership and asked to be transferred to service. I had to leave a voice mail. I missed the call back (let me not they called me back right at closing time) and asked me to call them the next day when they were open again. I said that I wanted an appointment for any time on Friday. ANY TIME! I can even drop my car off in the morning and leave it with them all day to squeeze in. Why couldn’t they just schedule it or tell me that Friday wasn’t available?  The next morning, before they were “open” I actually got an email, saying to call and schedule an appointment for the next week and Friday wasn’t good. Two days after I made the original request.  I was able to get an appointment for tomorrow so they called my husband to confirm. What is that? I’ve mentioned before that the dealer hasn’t been the best about customer service anyway. I love my car, but when my lease is up, I’ll be taking my business elsewhere.

Meter Inspection Date

Then the gas company needs to inspect our meter, which surprise, surprise it’s not accessible from the outside and someone needs to let them into our home to look at the meter. The postcard they sent said, “make every effort to do the work at a date a time that is convenient for you.”

The postcard’s message.

That turned out to be a load of crap. We tried to schedule a real, actual appointment at a convenient time just to find out that you aren’t able to schedule a date and time, just give them a time frame (ie morning, afternoon, evening) and they’ll call you “30 minutes” before arriving at your house. My husband was able to get us “an evening” which is defined by 4:30-8:30 on some evening at some time in the future… We didn’t know when. Last night when we got home, there was a tag on the door that they had come for an inspection. Neither of us got a call, they just showed up sometime during the work day. Brad called them and explained that they never called, had they called him he could have been home and the inspection would be done… wonder of wonders! They gave us a date… an actual date for the inspection! Like he’d asked for in the first place. Let’s see if we actually get a call now…

Have you noticed a recent increase in advertising that highlight excellent service as a benefit? The reason why is because everyone pretty much sucks at customer service, so companies that have truly good service have their different and better right there.

Rant Over.

Related Posts:

Best Friend of Big Brother?

The Utility Circus

You’re Doing It Wrong

Stop Scolding

As a person with a large medical team (six right now), a lot of time and careful planning goes into getting the medical stuff that I need while still having this wonderful thing people like to call “a life.”

Lately, I’ve been fed up with being scolded by medical office staff and emails from my pharmacy. Today I just need to vent.

Last year, all of my medical visits hit at the same time and I was completely overwhelmed by everything. Because of that and our insurance all of my visits needed to be spaced out. I looked at the state of my health and decided to push my annual exam back a couple of months. When I scheduled my appointment, I let the nurse know that I would run out of my current prescription a couple of weeks before my appointment. She assured me that would be fine and to just call their refill line and explain that I need an additional month to hold to my appointment. I thanked her and that was that… Until yesterday.

Yesterday, I got a voice mail from Debbie in my doctor’s office. I’m definitely paraphrasing but it said something like: We got a call from your pharmacy requesting a refill on your prescription. You haven’t been seen since February so we can’t refill your prescription unless you make an appointment. You need to call our office and make an appointment.

The message would have been fine if a few things were different: 1. If her tone were pleasant or at least not so freaking rude. 2. If she had checked to see my appointment on the books for May. 3. If she had left the office number instead of making me look it up. Continue reading

Best Friend or Big Brother?

People tend to get creeped out when they learn of stores tracking their shopping habits. Like when Target can predict a pregnancy. As a communications professional, I find these things interesting, but when I shared about it on my Facebook (a long time ago) a lot of people commented that tracking customer spending habits is “creepy” or an “invasion of privacy.”

In our culture we knowingly shop with trackable practices. We use credit cards. We use loyalty cards. We like free stuff. We like good deals. Why do many feel it’s gone too far to follow our habits and give us what we want?

I registered my Giant Eagle loyalty card online to start loading automatic discounts to my card for effortless grocery couponing. Not too long afterward we got a great set of personalized coupons in the mail along with a “rewards statement” tracking how much we’d saved on weekly specials, fuel perks and food perks. Each coupon was for something that we regularly purchase, like $1 off any produce or $1 off meat or cheese from the deli counter. There were six in total and the next time I was at the grocery store, I used five of them. We continue to receive coupons  based on our regular shopping habits and when I bought groceries on Tuesday I saved an extra $6 from these personalized offers.

We get free drinks at Starbucks because we registered our card and let them keep a log of how many drink we purchase.

There’s a mutually beneficial relationship in these sorts of programs. Stores can find out what they’re regular customers want the most or what hardly ever leaves their shelves. They can win over business by offering you discounts on products that you might need for the next stage of your life or for your next cookout. As a consumer, you can save money at the places you already shop and improve your relationship with their regular haunts.

Sure some tracking sounds like Big Brother, but does sending you coupons mean that companies are going to steal your personal information? Do loyalty programs mean that a store can control your actions?

No and No.

It’s a tactic for building better relationships because after all, Marketing 101 (103 if you took my Intro to Marketing class) tells you that it’s way less expensive to maintain a relationship with a customer you already have than to build a whole new relationship with a whole new customer.

The brands just want to be your best friend… or some sort of friend.

Still feeling a bit paranoid? Don’t want to be tracked? Then don’t use a loyalty card when you shop and pay with cash.

 

Feeling Left Out

I’m back on the customer service, good communication, former car dealership employee platform.

In late December, I traded in my car for a newer model. It wasn’t a stellar experience, but it also wasn’t horrible. Our salesman and the mangers knew that we were buying the car for me. My name was in the computer already because I’d taken my old car there for maintenance. Me, me, me! (Do I sound whiney?)

We’re even dressed alike!

The new car is in both of our names. My information was first on all of the paperwork. I drive the car every day. I keep the car clean. I will take the car in for scheduled  maintenance.

So imagine my surprise, when thank you emails arrived in my inbox, at an email address that is my name, that were addressed to Brad. I got phone calls on my cell number for Brad from the dealership. The card in the mail, the calendar, the junk they send…. all addressed to Brad (and only Brad). When we picked up my plates and registration, Brad’s name was first. (And they called him to report that the plates were in.)

Then to add insult to injury, I got “Happy Birthday!” emails for Brad, all throughout February. I have no idea why I’m surprised that with my birthday in two days I haven’t received anything addressed to me for my own car.

It’s probably something alphabetical, but it feels pretty sexist. I made the buying decision for this vehicle. I’m also the one deciding whether or not to return to that auto group for future vehicle needs and frankly, it’s not looking good.

The bottom line: Continue reading