Though we’ve always prided ourselves on being a customer-centric company, over the past year or so we have focused on making the customer experience our top priority. It’s one thing to say we’re going to focus on customer service, since everyone says they do, and quite another to actually do it, mainly because it requires serious analysis.
What I mean by “analysis” is an in-depth and objective evaluation of the customer experience from beginning to end, from the sales proposal to the ongoing follow-up, even after the product is delivered. One way we found to make customer service a priority with each of our employees was encouraging them to pay close attention to their own customer experiences. We asked them to document how they were treated as they went about their daily lives; the good, the bad and the ugly of their customer service experiences.
By taking a step back and evaluating how they were being treated as customers, our employees learned valuable lessons about how and how not to work with their customers. They walked a mile in their shoes, to borrow a cliché, and doing so has paid off in an enhanced customer experience for their customers, ultimately resulting in greater customer retention.
Through this exercise, we’ve also found that great customer service often shows up in the most unexpected places. In my case, I was treated to a fantastic customer experience at an off-site airport parking service of all places. Perhaps the low expectation of having to wait for a bus, being crammed in a noisy, uncomfortable vehicle driven by someone wearing a worn-and-torn uniform and expecting a tip had something to do with it.
So there I was, driving my wife, a good friend and his wife to the Tampa airport from Sarasota for a five-day trip. I suggested that we use the off-airport A1 Express Transportation service to park our car. My friend uses airport valet parking every chance he gets, so I was a little apprehensive that I may regret the suggestion.
The parking facility was spanking clean and the staff friendly and efficient. A new van was there by the time I checked in and the trip to the airport took very little time. Leg one was completed with no problem. Actually, to this point, it was better than I expected due to the new location and cleanliness of the van.
When we returned to Tampa from our trip, we gave A1 a call, walked out of the terminal and there was an A1 van getting ready to leave for the lot. The driver was quite personable and encouraged interaction among the passengers to break the ice. The bottom line here is that the driver, recognizing that the passengers were probably not overly excited about have four more people board just when they were getting ready to leave, read the situation and got everyone talking and made it a pleasant ride for all.
When we arrived at the lot, I checked in with a friendly staff member, paid the $7-a-day fee (not bad at all) and was even offered a complimentary bottle of water. When all was said and done, we figured that by using A1 Express we hauled our luggage far less, saved at least half off the typical parking fee, saved precious time and received the best customer service possible, from beginning to end.
In upcoming posts my colleagues will share what we found through our customer service analysis and the programs and processes we implemented to enhance each of our customer’s experience.