Why great customer service cannot rectify a poor experience!

Great customer service promises and guarantees are something we see a lot from consumer businesses. Is customer service enough? The simple answer is no!

A personal experience that explains why…….

I recently travelled to the USA and booked to hire a car. The booking process was straight forward. The representatives friendly, helpful and supportive (great customer service!)

HOWEVER…..upon arrival (after a long flight) we queued for over an hour to speak to the check in agent and get the paperwork for our car.

When the tiredness and frustration subsided I thought about how different it could’ve been if they had looked at the whole experience. They had clearly spent time training friendly, capable staff. In this specific scenario I came up with a couple of quick improvements:

  • Provide the option to enter the necessary details as an online advance check in. This would massively reduce or even remove the 15-20 minutes each agent is currently spending with each customer.
  • Communicate all the additional optional extras (and explanations of each) in advance so the agent doesn’t need to do this at check in

There were at least 6 car hire companies in the same location, all with queues equally long and slow moving. Whilst the service provided by the staff was friendly and competent, nothing they could do removed the frustration of the long (and what felt like an unnecessary) wait.

I have vowed that on our next trip we will look for a company that offers fast track or automated check in to remove this frustration. This is no reflection of the staff we dealt with, but rather the processes that have not considered the best experience for the customers.

Finding a balance

I would have been much happier with a 5-10 min wait and a less ‘perky’ customer service agent. This would also make it more likely for me to return to them for future bookings!

Processes behind customer interactions are of greater importance than friendly staff (of course this is beneficial too). The focus is often on the Customer Service and not the bigger Experience, to the detriment of the business.

In many businesses, large investment goes into customer service training. Whereas, if a percentage of this budget is used to focus on experience there is a massive reduction, and in some cases removal, of the front line customer service support needed!

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