Customer service--or the lack thereof

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I heard an ad on the radio this morning that cut through my "I need more coffee" fog like a Jedi lightsaber. The company, which helps keep basements dry, says, "We answer our phones. We return calls. And we show up for appointments." That's their big marketing message--we actually do the bare minimum any company could possibly do in terms of customer service. No wonder the plunge in customer satisfaction continues, according to The University of Michigan’s American Customer Satisfaction Index. From an eTurbo article:

ACSI has a history of predicting future purchase behavior at both the firm

and economy-wide level. With the decline in customer satisfaction, Fornell

does not believe that a bounce back in spending next quarter is likely.

“And that could be bad news for hotels, airlines, and all other industries,”

said Chaat Butsunturn of Kearns & West. “When people are dissatisfied with

their consumption experiences in general, they are less likely to open their

wallets for other goods and services in the future.”

According to Butsunturn, the hotel industry is nothing more or less than an

average performer in terms of delivering the value, service, and quality

Americans want. “The industry’s score is 73 on the ACSI’s 100-point scale,

precisely the same as the national ACSI average of satisfaction level with all

goods and services consumed by Americans,” Butsunturn said.

“Despite ads and promotions suggesting the hotel experience delivers

something exceptional—there’s a difference between what the people in the ads

say and what real people say,” Butsunturn added. “The ACSI reflects how people

really feel about their hotel stays. . .and, essentially, they’re saying,

‘It’s ok.’”

ACSI has Hilton leading the hotel industry despite a

one-point drop from last year. Starwood came in second.

In Meeting New's 2005 Planners' Hotel Preferences Poll, most of the quotes from planners mention service as the differentiator that put Gaylord Hotels in first place in the upper-upscale brands, and Four Seasons at the top for luxury brands. You can bet that these guys don't get that reputation by doing the bare minimum for their customers--they, and their cohorts on the best-of lists do the opposite of setting up high goals in their ads and then failing to reach them. They set you up to expect the best, and then they exceed expectations. Consistently.

Which leads me to ask, what can I do for you? If you ever have a question or are looking for resources on something, please let me know and I'll do what I can to hunt down the info for you. My phone is (978) 448-0377; or you can e-mail me at spelletier@charter.net. My job is to help you do your job better, and I want to exceed your expectations. Consistently.

And if my basement ever floods, I know of one company I will not be calling.

Update: David Shaw thinks I'm all wet. I respond here.

If you care about this stuff as much as I do, tune in to MeetingsRadio next Wednesday, May 25, at 9 a.m. to hear me, Dave McCann and Rob Carey (both with Meeting News) bash this one around a little with radio host Bill Wulff. You can call or e-mail in to join the discussion. Should be interesting!

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