It is easy to criticize the service we receive. After all, we certainly experience enough less-than-desirable service to make one biased toward the idea that all service is bad. I recently noticed three examples of companies trying to improve their service. In the case of at least one location for one company, service is better.
- Case One: Delta Airlines is my first example. In the long distant past, Delta was known for its service. But like most other airlines, they decided it was not worth the effort. On a recent trip to Ft. Lauderdale I noticed some changes. First, the cabin crew had neatly pressed uniforms (think about the condition of some of the crew uniforms on many airlines) and was exceptionally hospitable. Second, the plane was clean and comfortable, or at least as comfortable as it can be for someone who is 6’3”. Third and perhaps most noteworthy is that within one hour of landing, I received a request for feedback on the flight. Can’t remember that happening ever when flying. Delta seems to be making the effort.
- Case Two: My Verizon representative and her boss paid a call on me today. In discussing what we do, I found out that the boss is held accountable for customer satisfaction. We had quite an interesting discussion about this from the view of someone who has to deliver improved service. She spoke about both the challenges and the rewards of a better service experience. As a point of reference, you may wish to read my earlier post about one experience with Verizon. By the way, I am not a paid spokesman for Verizon. I just happened to notice some changes.
- Case Three: Home Depot. Now, I am certain I will get all kinds of feedback on this. However, I happen to think Home Depot is not only making the effort but is moving the needle on customer service. I know from reading analyst’s presentations that Home Depot management has made a better service experience a cornerstone strategy. It seems to be trickling down to the frontline. The best example is my experience shopping at the Wendover Road Home Depot in Charlotte. While Lowes is a bit closer, I prefer to get my hardware fixes at Home Depot. The people are genuinely nice (or else put up a really good front) and are anxious to help. The stores are clean (yes, not so in the past) and well organized. The employees have smiles on their faces, which, I always think makes a difference. Do I drive the extra mile to go to Home Depot? Yes, without hesitation.
Are we seeing the beginnings of a revival in customer service in the US? I do not know for sure, but it does seem that managers are beginning to see its value. The next challenge is to create environments where engaged and enthusiastic employees can do their best for customers each and every day. I happen to think that my local Home Depot store has moved in that direction. We will see.
By the way, send me your stories about customer service, good and bad. My email address is [email protected]. I do have a bias towards the positive stories!