OK, the examples I’m about to share do not rival the legendary tales of Rolls Royce. You may have heard the oft repeated tale of the plutocrat whose Phantom develops a transmission problem in the South of France. He telegraphs Rolls Royce and that evening while he’s sleeping blissfully in his hotel room, the motorcar manufacturer helicopters in a team of mechanics who repair his touring car before dawn and then leave neither bill nor record of the repairs. After all Rolls Royces do not experience transmission problems.
Stories like that live on since they epitomize both the brand and the definition of service. These days we have come to expect the total opposite. And, in fact, they are the stories that get told. Usually via social media. Receive lousy treatment in a restaurant? Shout it out on Yelp or Foursquare. Airline refuses to replace your broken guitar? Compose some angry lyrics and post them on YouTube. Comcast doesn’t show up when scheduled? Rant about it on Twitter.
True, more often than not such condemnation is deserved. It feels good to vent. And in some cases our outbursts actually yield improved products or services.
But it strikes me that if we can so effortlessly dish out anger and accusations, we ought to, at least once in a while, offer up praise when it’s deserved. Just maybe, by doing so, we’ll encourage other brands and marketers, service providers and retailers to emulate that Rolls Royce behavior – or something remotely similar — that could earn our loyalty.
So here goes, a recap of some good service I recently received on a family vacation in Florida.
Jet Blue is responsive on Twitter
Delayed flights are the bane of every traveler, but when you’re on vacation with your family it’s even more annoying. Worse yet is not having accurate information. The word “Delayed” doesn’t quite cut it when it comes be keeping you informed. But on a recent trip to Florida, I found that all my questions regarding the arrival of my aircraft, accurate departure time, and other updates were delivered in close to real time via @JetBlue on Twitter. I even got more information than was available on the airline’s mobile website and got it fast. Not sure how they do it and if they can do it all the time for their many travelers, but definitely impressive.
Hertz delivers exactly as they said they would
I’ll start with the fact that rental car prices the week of school vacation are nothing short of highway robbery. In fact the sales manager at Tampa International Airport’s Hertz office actually admitted that the company jacks up prices by 15 to 20 percent that week. But I can’t argue with how great the service was. We had a brand new VW Routan that ran fine, but a few days into the trip, when a malfunction indicator light came on and left us reluctant to drive any distance without knowing the cause, Hertz delivered another brand new vehicle to us less than two hours after we called. No insistence that we come to them. No questions asked. A pretty good way to assure my next rental will be with Hertz, too.
Tommy Bahama Tropical Café is not laid back when it comes to service
I can honestly say I’ve never had this happen before, and I’ve patronized some pretty good restaurants all over the world. Two days after eating at this popular spot in Sarasota’s St. Armand’s Key, I got a call from the manager asking about our experience. In a brief but meaningful call she wanted to know about our reception, the preparation of the food and the service of the wait staff. I’m pretty sure she was even taking notes when I suggested the sauce on my grilled Snapper could have been a tad more subtle. She told me the restaurant calls most of its patrons who make reservations for a quick follow-up. Given that the place did virtually everything right and nothing wrong, one might conclude that they actually listen.
It doesn’t seem it should be that hard to provide great service. Zappos (a Mullen client) does it all day long every day. Apple delivers it in virtually all of its stores. The W Hotel has built a brand around service.
If you want stories told about your brand, perhaps you should forego trying to save money on service by trying to limit the length of phone calls or refusing to treat customers as individuals (Chase, are you listening?) and take a lesson from some of these companies.
What do you think? Is it possible to encourage better service with praise? Or should we resume venting?