Everywhere you go it seems that the level of service is dropping; and I am not talking about luxury, over the top outstanding service, I am just pointing out to the minimal expected service.
I don’t know if this is due to the discerning new needs of customers, or the fact that people through the overflow of information are exposed to more outlets than the past. What I know is that as a customer, 1 out of 3 customer service experiences is painful to me and only 1 out of 20 exceeds my expectations; this wasn’t so bad 5 years ago.
Recently I was staying in a reputable hotel chain in Riyadh- Saudi Arabia- and for $250 a night, the service was merely acceptable. After settling my bill I had to extend one more night and paid that extra night by using my credit card.
A month later, the extra night charge was billed 3 times to my credit card; Mistakes happen, however the disaster happened when I tried to reach the hotel.
I had trouble reaching the hotel as the number displayed on the website never answers. The email addresses provided are all inactive or wrong as all the emails kept bouncing back. After my 4th call, the accounting department got back to me, talked to me for about 30 seconds and asked me to send an email. The line was cut without having the proper email address and with no other call from the accounting department.
I tried calling the hotel again but no one answered my call. I had to be creative and change the number combinations at the end till I got ahold of the reception. I thought for a moment that I am calling the post office or an old government department as I got transferred so many times with no answer from the duty manager nor the GM.
I called the worldwide customer service number. The lady over the phone was extremely nice going the extra mile to resolve my issue. She promised me that the hotel GM will call me, and gave me a quick reference number to follow up my case with a 48 hours resolution promise.
That made me think; Obviously this chain cares a lot about customer service and thus at the corporate level, they walk the extra mile in service, however at the bottom line, where the customer interacts, the service is distorted.
What is happening with large organizations, is that they weigh a lot on customer service as a strategic goal, and do not take the time to translate it to the bottom line.
This issue could be resolved very quickly by conducting proper employee and organizational competency assessments, listening to customers and walking in the customers' shoes through mystery shopping or other observation techniques.
Camil el Khoury