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Traveling a lot gives us lots of opportunities to experience unique, interesting and sometimes weird stories. It also offers different glimpses what companies and organizations are doing when it comes to good, neutral and just bad customer service.
I think of the travel industry in these buckets:
- You need them! These are airlines, train systems, etc. When we travel and want to get from Point A to Point B we need them. While we don’t want terrible experiences, we might put up with them because, well, after all, this terrible to neutral experience of getting from Here to There was necessary.
- You do it for the experience! For example, going to Disney World is about the experience there – or at least our children’s experience and the parent’s experience of them having a good experience.
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The customer experience matters and is often created through the words used and the way companies communicate with customers. Typically, we only notice this, though, when the wording could be better. When the wording and communication is positive, we just feel good and move forward. Some less-than-idea wording can make us spring into action. Here’s an example that happened to me while booking an upcoming trip online.
I went online to book my hotel, found one that was relatively close to where where my speaking engagement was taking place. I booked my room online and received a confirmation email. So far so good. Onward to other things.
Then the next day, I received this email:
“As requested, we have canceled your reservation.”
The problem was, I didn’t cancel anything. I didn’t request it. I hadn’t even communicated with them since I booked it and they confirmed it. What happened? Was I hacked? Oh no, identity theft nightmares were already going through my head. Do I have to cancel my credit cards? What else was affected? Or was this a spam email? But how would the spammers know I booked a stay there? Why didn’t it go into my spam folder if it was? Maybe they hacked into my email? Oh no. Oh no. What should I do? How many days will this take to clear up? Please hold, we will be right with you.
OK, let’s relax for a minute here, but I’m sure you are getting the point. I took this situation offline. I called the hotel chain and asked why it was cancelled. Their response: “It was cancelled online. One moment.” After being on hold for a few moments they came back on and said that it was canceled because they were trying to grab the required deposit off my credit card on file, but the credit card was actually expired. My bad, I didn’t even notice. How come they didn’t email me that it had expired? I wonder, though, why the email didn’t or can’t share what the actual problem was – instead of pushing my resting heart rate of high-50s into the 90s? Ha.
There certainly are examples out there of great customer service communication. I still appreciate the one Hertz, the rental company, sent right before my driver’s license expired. They made sure I knew, had enough time to renew it and was still able to rent the car from them on an upcoming trip. Well done. We all win. I get the car. They get my money.
In the hotel example, the email could have been so much more helpful had it alerted me of the real problem. Something to keep in mind for all of us as we are trying to integrate all of our channels and provide the best customer service across all. I did give them a shot to rebook me while on the phone, but it was a lot more expensive, so I decided to shop some more later. I did end up booking through another hotel chain online.
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