Customer Service from the Road

When you are out and about or even on vacation, do you observe the customer service you receive? What are your thoughts about the customer you receive every day?

I just spent the last seven weeks traveling in an RV with my wife visiting clients and prospects. Given what we do as a firm, I always pay attention to customer service I receive most anywhere. As we drove through the upper Midwest, I kept my eyes and ears open.  Here are some of my observations:

A Smile Does Matter

Wal-Mart is a frequent stop because the larger stores have a selection of organic foods and RV supplies. Plus, their parking lots are nice and large, making it easier to park an RV towing a car.

Customer service varied, however, from one Wal-Mart to another. In several stores, employees smiled and actually seemed happy to see us. In other stores, it was either indifference or outright unfriendliness. If the cashier or the person working in the aisles smiled, it made all the difference in the world. Interestingly enough, you exercise fewer of your facial muscles when you smile than when you frown. If nothing else, a smile saves energy.

Some Manufacturers Really Do Care

We have a high-quality Newmar RV, built in Nappanee, IN. However, as is true with all RVs, you will have the occasional problem. After all, it is a mini-house on wheels, so there are a lot of systems to keep working. I had one especially annoying problem with a front window shade that one dealer was supposed to have fixed.
After we had started the trip, we discovered the window shade wasn’t fixed. I called my representative at Newmar’s customer service department. He agreed that the shade should have been repaired and arranged to have the new parts sent to a dealer in route.

The shade is now fixed and no longer a problem. What was impressive was the follow-up to make certain the part got to the dealer and that things were scheduled. What is most interesting is I can tell from the calls and emails I have had from Newmar’s customer service department that they genuinely care about keeping their customers happy. The quality of the unit is enhanced by the quality of the service.

Surprise

While at a campsite during my morning walk with our dog, Party,(who was leashed), I saw a park ranger approaching in the distance. I initially thought the ranger was coming to me because I was doing something wrong. I was wrong! She just wanted to point out some points of interest in the park that the casual visitor may not see. A nice surprise!

For Most, A Desire to Deliver Great Service

From my talks with people, I learned that most saw the value of providing a great customer service experience. I also heard about the barriers that inhibit this from happening. Such things as:

  • Senior managers who fail to define what they expect in any customer interaction. Another way of saying this is ”what is our brand promise?” People have to know what good looks like if they are going to change.
  • Little or no training in how to provide customer service. We work in the b-to-b market. There are a lot of technicians and supervisors who may have great technical skills but have had little or no training on how to effectively deliver great customer service.
  • Some people still do not see the value of a superior customer experience. Along with this notion is a belief that “we have always done it this way, it seems to work, why change?”

From my perspective, there is still a lot of work to do to improve customer service.

We all still spend too much waiting for a product to be serviced or having a less-than-pleasant time buying life’s necessities because a clerk does not care or simply getting no response to questions.

But then there are those surprises. Thanks to Newmar and the unnamed park ranger. These people made the experiences different and better.

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