Monday, August 24, 2009

Exceptional Customer Service

On Friday I was discussing marketing in an interview and I was asked to talk about "positive customer service" that I experienced while shopping/dining.

My response....waiting....waiting....waiting...umm...

You guessed it, nothing even stood out among the repeated mediocre to poor customer service that is practiced on a daily basis.

So this weekend I really paid close attention to customer service. Here are the lowlights. My family and I waited forty-five minutes for our breakfast at an unpopular national chain restaurant. Also, I waited nearly 10 minutes at the window of drive-thru for a hamburger and fries. When I was finally served...the clerk didn't even say a single word, she just handed my bag.
While there is a definite lack of customer service today, there is certainly no shortage of talk about it. You hear and read about a company's dedication to service all the time; yeah, okay, whatever.

What if a company actually walked the talk? How would the business world change? People's shopping patterns? I know answering the question I was faced with Friday would have been a lot easier.

One positive of this; there is great opportunity for brands that can walk the talk, particularly for smaller businesses.

In my opinion the Top Five Worst Offenders are:

Fast Food
Auto Dealers
Government Entities (Post Office/Motor Vehicle Dept.)

Do you agree? Revise this list in the comments section.


Brian said...

Don't disagree on any of the bottom five. Airlines for sure, though you can tell which of the carriers makes customer service a priority, such as Southwest and AirTran.

I would say Progressive Auto insurance is one of the better companies at customer service, but you are definitely right, it is tough to think of positive experiences. And that's all the more reason for companies to adopt customer service as a strategy, as it is such a lost art that it distinguishes one from the rest.

Alexander said...

Thanks for sharing Brian. Excellent points. I flew Southwest for the first time about a year ago and it was a really different experience, in a good way. Booking was easy, no hassles at the airport, flights were on-time, and I was blown away by the personality of the flight attendants, it was pretty funny.

What I think is interesting and a pretty sad commentary on the state of the airlines is that the best service in the sky is on the low cost airlines.

In other sectors like retail, it would be hard to imagine. Would it make sense for you to get treated better at TJ Maxx or Marshalls than you would at Saks Fifth Avenue or Bloomingdales. Yet somehow, the airlines manage to achieve this.