On a recent holiday to Las Vegas I noticed a consistent theme all the way from Manchester to the States – disappointing customer service.
It is more obvious than ever that organisations have had to cut staff to help balance the books, and this comes with a penalty.
Let’s start with the check-in desk Manchester airport, where unhelpful staff charged me for being 1kg over my baggage allowance – even though I was checking in for the premium seats.
Then came the one-hour queue to get through security. This was due to a skeleton staff being used on one of the busiest days of the year.
Once through security I encountered unhelpful catering staff who didn’t even raise an eyebrow, let alone a smile, when I ordered my overpriced plate of shepherd’s pie. It cost £9.85 for half a portion and a cold portion at that.
So I went to the plane and my nice premium seat hoping for a bit of a smile from the crew. Wrong. Since when has a premium passenger had to purchase headphones and pay for soft drinks? And the crew was even more unhelpful once I declined to purchase those items.
Having landed in Las Vegas after a long flight, I grabbed a cab to the hotel. The fare was $11.80 so I handed over $15 to be greeted with, “Is that it? I 've sat in the queue for that?”.
And so it went on all week. From the bars to hotels to theatres to restaurants, I could not believe that firms which claim to excel in customer service – the one thing that will make you stand out in these hard economic times – were doing it so badly.
Put your customers first
I wrote recently in this column that the online agencies had overtaken face-to-face agencies on customer service and this trip has only backed up my belief.
Only one company, club and restaurant owner the N9NE Group, actually pushed the boat out and put customer service in front of profit. And you know what? I probably spent more money with them than anyone else because they did what everyone else should have done – looked after their customers and placed a value on my custom.
Those who can see customer service is the key to standing out in these times will prevail. Those who can see it, but sadly don’t act on it, will find it very hard.
I can see a massive gap in the market for helpful and informative travel agents to push on and not only survive, but thrive in this climate. Those who chase the money without the service will fall a long way behind.
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