Customer Service Rises to the Occasion
I have been traveling a lot recently in Asia and Europe. Two incidents made me think twice about customer service and how it has evolved. The first happened while I was in Singapore staying at a very lovely hotel. After a long flight to get there from Australia, I arrived late. I was thrilled to see the hotel restaurant open so I could eat, relax and finish reading my book. I had lost my tablet somehow in security in Dubai during a layover and had to buy a hard copy book to read on the trip. The restaurant had a luxurious buffet of many cuisines and I quickly dashed over to the Indian food station and filled my plate. When I went to sign the bill, the waiter said that they only charged me for half the buffet because I ate so little. True, I am not a big eater but I certainly had a full plate of scrumptious food. The fact that they even noticed what I had eaten with all the hustle and bustle in the restaurant with so many vacationing families and couples partaking in the buffet surprised me. They even brought over a little lamp to my table to make sure I had enough light to read my book easily. Customer service supreme.
On this most recent trip this week, I slept on the plane overnight to Geneva from New York and arrived at my hotel early in the morning. They did not have my room available and I had to wait several hours in the lobby. Naturally I was not terribly happy about this because I was tired, cranky and sweaty. It must have been 90 degrees Fahrenheit in Switzerland this week. I reasoned with myself to be calm and patient, after all it is summer and lots of people are on holiday even though I wasn’t. When I got my room around 1:30pm, I was fairly exhausted and had to prep for my meeting that evening. When I checked out two days later, they told me they were not charging me for the room from the first evening because I had to wait. Now, they did not have to do that. I did sleep in the bed and use the room.
Having these two incidents back to back made me think that customer service has evolved to new heights that favor the traveler. Granted, these were excellent hotels who make their business to delight the business traveler but they did not have to up their reputations even higher than they already were. But everything is relative and I was extremely impressed.
On a whole other subject, as you may already know if you follow me on this blog, I am particularly interested in civility because it impacts a country’s reputation for good and bad. Many cities and countries are now instituting programs to train residents to be more civil. Our research on Civility in America has shown that America has a ways to go in getting its civility act to a better place. On one of my plane rides, I spotted this article that describes an interesting program in Bogota. The city is using street actors on their transport systems to reinforce the need for greater civility. The mayor is fed up with people riding the buses without paying (70,000 a day), dodging fares (8 people died in related-accidents last year), and women are sometimes harassed. They now have three acting troupes who are teaching manners to their populace. For example, the actors will stare at people who barge on at the last minute jostling everyone trying to exit to make them uncomfortable and think about what they have just done. Or they will act out what happens when people do not give a seat to a woman carrying an infant and the baby goes flying out of her arms. A former mayor even hired mimes to imitate jaywalkers and call attention to that danger. Smart thinking. Sounds like a good summer job to me. This is not the first time I’ve heard of a city adopting new ways to remind people to be civil. We have announcements in the NYC subway system asking people to give up their seats to the elderly and pregnant. Considering that the world will be largely urban in years to come, this all makes great sense to start now.