Why is good customer service so remarkable?
We are away on our first family holiday. All packed up and ready to go we set off to Costa del Somerset and made it all the way to, ahem, Newport before the air con system on our 5-week old car failed. Again. In the 5 weeks we have had this car, it has been back to the dealership 3 times, and for a week of those 5 it has holidayed with their service team in an attempt to get it fixed. Call me a fuss-pot, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect cold air to come out of the vents when its 25 degrees outside.
Anyway, we took a detour and paid them yet another visit. They took one look at my husband and knew exactly the reason why we’d called in (and, no, it wasn’t because we were missing them). You can imagine how frustrated (and hot) we were, so when the General Manager of the (as yet) unnamed* dealership suggested that, actually, perhaps we should have bought it to his attention before now, I had to bite my tongue. Perhaps his own staff could do the honours with that little request? Just an idea…
We eventually got going, in a car that was not the one we set off in, and arrived at Cricket St. Thomas’ Swandown Lodges. We were greeted enthusiastically and politely, we felt welcomed within minutes and we felt at home soon after. I’ll write more about our holiday when we’re home and I’ve done the washing, but as we settled in we were both so impressed by all of this – and why? Why is outstanding, or even just good, customer service so special? Why are we so amazed and impressed with good manners and friendliness when, actually, they should just come as standard?
We’ve holidayed a few times in Dubai and it is, without doubt, my favourite place on earth. One of the reasons, aside from the weather and the sun, and the….err…weather, is the level of service you get from every hotel, restaurant, tourist attraction and anywhere else you visit. Dubai has customer service nailed; sure, it relies on Western tourism and investment so needs to keep us sweet, but you’re consistently made to feel valued – whether you’re spending a couple of quid on an ice cream or eating in a top restaurant.
We Brits are renowned for our apologetic manner; I say sorry half a dozen times a day for going to walk through a door at the same time as someone else, taking a millisecond too long to get out of someone’s way or unintentionally starting to speak at the same time as someone else. “Ooops, sorry” is a staple part of my daily vocab – perhaps because I rarely feel confident of reciprocated manners or service so I just hurry the situation and awkwardness along. But why are we so apologetic and accommodating when things aren’t our fault or not what we signed up to receive?
Since becoming a Mum I spend a lot more time in coffee shops, soft play centres, supermarkets and other places that aren’t behind a desk in an office, so perhaps I have just become more critical of how I expect to be treated. Or perhaps not. Perhaps we should all stop apologising and start expecting more than second-rate manners from businesses that should realise that, without customers, they don’t actually have a business.
* I say ‘as yet unnamed’; depending on the outcome I might make it my mission to deter lots of future custom. But for now, I’d quite like my car back without prawns stuffed into the air vents by way of revenge…