Kudos and Kudon’ts of 4 days in a glorious natural setting
Over the last 36 years, I have become a passionate critic of customer service, from the grand gestures down to the intricate details. While grandiose displays can inspire good first impressions, it’s generally the “little things” that form many of our lasting opinions. The devil indeed is in the details.
While many sectors of public-facing businesses (including hospitality, food and beverage, and retail) mouth customer service mantras non-stop, it often doesn’t take much to make or break a customer’s affinity toward a particular establishment.
“Customer engagement” do’s and don’ts may dominate corporate training, branding and operations, but what can get lost in the shuffle is the small, seemingly innocuous words and actions that can endear or enrage.
The “art” of customer service is every bit as important—maybe even more so in some cases—than canned big-picture promises, commitments and campaigns thought up by marketing strategists. Clever slogans and words only resonate if the actions behind them are solid. In other words, performance must match promises—or the entire effort will flop.
When I think about bold slogans that don’t stand up to real-life experience, I almost always come up with United Airlines and “fly the friendly skies” first. As a kid, United and Continental Airlines were the benchmarks of enjoyable air travel. They inspired confidence. The surroundings and staff evoked comfort and even joy that endured through glitches on the ground and bumps in the air.
The only friendly skies I encounter now are occupied by Southwest Airlines. Their customer service culture helps make flying today at least somewhat tolerable—partly because they don’t ding you with bag and rebooking charges like their competitors. Given the feeling of being herded like cattle – starting in security and continuing to the cramped, crowded seats designed to maximize profits – there’s only so much that anyone can expect anymore. But, at least with Southwest, I generally get a good vibe from their “above the rest” customer service, which leads me to plan travel to locations they serve. The thought of flying on any other airline gives me cause to pause.
Okay, enough about air travel for now.
Following in a series of posts are my high-flying and low-lying observations about the accommodations, dining and exploration elements of our recent visit to Crested Butte—divided into Kudos (thumbs-up) and Kudon’ts (thumbs down). Count how many times you nod in agreement or utter “uh huh.” Then think about how your impressions match many others who have gone down a similar road.
No wonder reviews have become the lifeblood (or death knell) of so many companies. Often, these reviews focus on the “little annoyances” that add up to big disfavor. It’s like a chain breaking at its weakest point. And therein lies the customer service challenge facing corporate America today.
Read the next installment in the series:
Mark Lusky is a veteran writer, storyteller and author, with 40+ years of public relations, advertising, marketing and journalism experience. He is the author of A Wandering Wondering Jew… and co-author of Don’t Get Mad, Get Leverage. AKA The Happy Curmudgeon, Mark is the owner of a Denver-based marketing communications firm celebrating 36 years in business in 2018.