If You Claim to Care, Care!

[article]
Summary:

Service businesses that really care about their customers don't boast about how much they care. They don't need to. They simply deliver. Caring about customers is part of their service philosophy and it shows in the way they treat their customers. Conversely, service businesses that persistently proclaim how much they care often seem to fall short.

Service businesses that really care about their customers don't boast about how much they care. They don't need to. They simply deliver. Caring about customers is part of their service philosophy and it shows in the way they treat their customers. Conversely, service businesses that persistently proclaim how much they care often seem to fall short.

This mismatch between service philosophy and service delivery was evident at the hotel that failed to deliver my wake-up call. Nowadays, I set alarms on my cell phone, my travel clock, and the room clock (the ones I can figure out, at least) to yank me out of my State of SleepyHeadedness, but at the time of this non-wake-up call, I still depended on human intervention. Fortunately, I had managed to wake up in time.

Happily, the people who ran this hotel cared about their guests. I knew this was so because the feedback form in my room described the hotel's philosophy of caring and explained that hotel management met regularly to address ways to improve guest services. Furthermore, the feedback form stated that if I wanted an immediate response to any concern, I could describe it on the back of the form and drop it in a box located in the main lobby.

So I wrote out my complaint: I didn't get my wake-up call. When I left for the day, I watched the Front Desk staff watching me when I dropped the form into the box.

A Loaf of Bread, a Jug of Wine ...

Upon returning to my room that evening, I expected to find ... what? An offer of a free night's stay? Not at all. A bouquet of flowers? No. A bowl of fruit? Not really. I thought there might simply be a note or phone message with an apology or at least a promise that I could count on getting my wake-up call the next morning. Instead ... nothing. No evidence of caring, either then or at any time since.

It doesn't take much for customers to start wondering if constant claims of caring are merely a promotional bluff. Customer satisfaction is based on service delivery, not claims about service delivery. And it's service delivery, not claims, that customers describe when they vent to friends and colleagues. So it might be worthwhile to examine your own service philosophy and analyze how well that philosophy translates into action. Conversely, examine your service delivery, and consider whether it reflects or contradicts your service philosophy.

If you aren't certain you can follow through on your promises, it may be best not to spout them too loudly or too visibly. Otherwise, when you fall short, your customers will catch you at it. And they'll quickly conclude that you don't really care.

User Comments

8 comments
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous

This is incredibly sound advice. Good service seems to a rare thing now a days. It seems a lot of people have forgotten that repeat business is good business. You can get people to give you a chance by making claims of good service and caring but if you don't deliver they will not give you repeat business.<br><br>Additionally, if I tell you I am a great employee and you should hire me, is that going to hold as much weight as a trusted friend or colleague telling you I am a great employee and you should hire me? I cannot count the number of times I have recommended people because they delivered on their commitments. It seems to be such a rare occurrence that it will really make you stand out.<br>

December 21, 2009 - 8:37pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous

Darrell, your point about repeat business is so important. It's not just the big things, but also the little things in the way service is delivered, that make a difference in whether or not someone chooses to remain a customer. And you are right, a recommendation or referral from a trusted colleague or friend can "clinch the deal," both for prospective employees and customers. ~Naomi

December 21, 2009 - 8:43pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous

I really loved this one, and it speaks from the heart of both the customer and also that special employee in customer service, who is viewed as proactive among staff, and how he/she feels towards those individuals who take actions or not, that damage a company's reputation. <br><br>Conclusively, such events as you describe is why in the US, it is incredibly fashionable to say, 'Let me speak to your manager please.' whenever service has failed. <br><br>Great stuff! Thank you!

December 23, 2009 - 1:38am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous

Thanks, Steven, I'm glad you enjoyed this post. You're right -- it's not only common, but indeed fashionable, to ask to speak to a manager when service has failed or fallen short. ~Naomi

December 23, 2009 - 4:48am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous

Excellent post, Naomi. Too often businesses think that their message that "your call is important to us" overrides the customer disservice of being stuck waiting on hold for 5, 10, or 15 minutes before a human interacts with you. Your example from the hotel is dead-on.

December 26, 2009 - 6:02pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous

Thanks, Roy. I'm amused every time I hear "Your call is important to us." Often (too often) what they seem to really mean is "Don't go away mad, just go away." But given the staffing and budget problems so many companies are now facing, I guess I'm glad my calls get answered at all. ~Naomi

December 30, 2009 - 1:14am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous

I like this article. This is called a great article. I am new here. I like your site too. This is pretty awesome. i found some useful info here. anyways thanks for sharing with us. I am looking foreword your next post. Thanks. I'm just going to shear this site all my friend's and i hope they live this site.

January 27, 2010 - 5:38pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous

Greetings and thank you so much. I'm delighted that you liked this article and I look forward to sharing future articles with you, especially those that relate to the hotel and hospitality business. ~Naomi

January 27, 2010 - 5:39pm

About the author

Naomi Karten's picture Naomi Karten

Naomi Karten is a highly experienced speaker and seminar leader who draws from her psychology and IT backgrounds to help organizations improve customer satisfaction, manage change, and strengthen teamwork. She has delivered seminars and keynotes to more than 100,000 people internationally. Naomi's newest books are Presentation Skills for Technical Professionals and Changing How You Manage and Communicate Change. Her other books and ebooks include Managing Expectations, Communication Gaps and How to Close Them, and How to Survive, Excel and Advance as an Introvert. Readers have described her newsletter, Perceptions & Realities, as lively, informative, and a breath of fresh air. She is a regular columnist for StickyMinds.com. When not working, Naomi's passion is skiing deep powder. Contact her at naomi@nkarten.com or via her Web site, www.nkarten.com.

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