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When were you last satisfied with service?

What is good service?   Its giving people what they want, not what you want to get rid of, nor what you think they want!

Case Study One

On a recent trip to Cape Town, I hired a car.  On arrival at the car hire company, there was a queue at least 30 deep.   There were 5 people serving.

I did the maths, and realised that at an average of 5 minutes per person, I had at least a 30 minute wait. Unfortunately, the average was not 5 minutes, because it appears that at 11 am, a lot of international passengers require cars, and the very pleasant floor manager informed us that international passengers take much longer.

When we asked why more than half the stations were unmanned at such a busy time, the explanation was around shifts and not enough people, none of which satisfied anybody in the queue.   50 minutes later I was in front of another very pleasant young woman who informed me I had been upgraded and would get a better car.

Now, I always hire the same car, as I like driving it.   As there was not one ready for me, I took the upgrade.  Both my husband and I did not enjoy driving it at all.

Case Study Two

Two restaurants have recently served me cold poached eggs.  Both had to bring me 3 servings before I received a hot meal (Yes I am fussy, but cold poached eggs are rather nasty).

At both restaurants, I was charged full price.

At the first one, they brought me a cream doughnut as an apology.
At the second, as I was leaving, the manager insisted on giving me R40 back.

The cream doughnut was interesting, as I think that a lot of people eating poached eggs might not be in the market for doughnuts...   A cup of coffee might have been a better choice...

So, in both of my little case studies, reparation was made, but in neither situation did I really leave a happier customer.  Even the R40 back (a nice gesture) was too little, too late.  My daughter and I had eaten at different times, while I tried to get what I was paying for, and still be pleasant. (Nicci and I have varying views on how successful I was).

The end result is that I might go back to the restaurants, and give them a second chance, but not to the car hire company.   Why?   I wasn't happy in either case, but at both restaurants there was management involvement and an attempt to improve the situation.

I do not believe that the car hire company has any plans to add additional people on a Saturday morning at 11, and they will just grease the squeakiest wheels by giving them an upgrade.

So, what is good service?

To me:

  • It is definitely about being pleasant at all costs
  • Keeping me informed about the current status
    • If its an eMail, do say Dear Mr/Mrs and end with Regards, I am not your buddy, I am your client
    • If its telephonically, call by the time you have promised and let me know even if the solution delivery is going to be later than expected
  • Don't give me gifts or upgrades that are not an improvement on my current situation (admittedly the car should have been, but its a new model with very limited internal space, and more blind spots than I can describe)
  • No company gets it right all the time, its just not possible, but I need to know that you are trying to improve, so:
    • Listen, follow up and make me feel more important than a problem that has been solved so you can move onto the next one.
    • Confirm that I am satisfied with the current status, and ask what I would suggest would help should such a problem occur again - make your current client problem part of your future solution.  


Links, Notes and References


Accsys (Pty) Ltd



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