Nov 11

More Good Customer Service

As I mentioned yesterday, customer service is a really big deal to me. I seriously should have gone into quality and assurance for some big company. If I am satisfied, I am quite sure that the majority of customers would be as well. One of my most frustrating moments EVER occurred checking out at the Target in Aberdeen, SD, on Black Friday a few years ago. The system clearly showed that whatever planning that occurred was not being followed. I would assert that the thought behind the process had several flaws. Incidentally, this was not the experience during which a security guard escorted me out of the store that I mentioned in yesterday’s post.

This past week, I have traveled 1600 miles in order to present at and attend an online learning conference. I have had a lot of time to experience customer service at its worst and at its finest. On Wednesday night, after discovering that Marriott has a contract with the devil (Pepsi), I went on a hunt for a can of the elixir of joy (Coca-Cola). The concierge at the JW Marriott made phone calls to three nearby businesses in order to save me extensive search time.

Presenting at this conference has been a dream of mine for the past six years of working in online education. I submitted the proposal early this summer and found out at the end of June that I had been accepted. I am humbled as I look through the qualifications of other presenters. Over half of them have PhDs in education, statistical analysis, psychology, and things I did not know even existed. I am honored to have been chosen, but I am also beyond intimidated. Anyone who knows me well knows that I can talk; however, as the size of the group increases, my confidence level decreases.

Preparing for presentations is not a strong point of mine. I tend to submit proposals for which I then regret having done so, but I always submit proposals of concepts that I know very well. An example of this is the presentations I have done annually about Facebook at the Minnesota Association of Alternative Programming in February. I put off preparation because I know the content really well, and a PowerPoint is not necessary. Give me the Facebook website and a scribbled outline on a napkin, and I am good to go. This week’s presentation was different. Although this presentation’s content (attendance and truancy in online schools) is what I live and breath every day, the level of quality for the presentation was expected to be much higher. For example, more professional PowerPoints, filled with engaging graphics, are the norm at this conference rather than the exception.

I arrived, thanks to the help of friends, colleagues, and my huz (he was a great resource!), well prepared; however, printing out a physical copy of my notes had slipped my mind. I am staying at the Courtyard by Marriott, and they have a great business center with a printer. They have Internet free of charge in the entire hotel (not true at the JW Marriott where it costs $7.95 per day – lame!).  I emailed my presentation to myself, headed down to the business center, and opened the PowerPoint. Fail.

The software on the business center’s set up would not allow me to change the format to a slide with notes format for printing. My heart dropped. It was after 11 p.m., and bed needed to be a priority, but I had to get this done before I would sleep.

Wenjing saved the day! Wenjing had quickly become my pal as we commiserated about Marriott’s unfortunate marriage to Pepsi. He scanned a document to me because it required a physical signature rather than an electronic response. He also had helped me figure out transportation to the airport. And he was aware of my distress over my PowerPoint problem. He gave me his personal gmail address (which I returned to him), I emailed the presentation to him, he formatted it correctly, and he printed it out for me.

This is good – great - customer service. I realize that “guest services” is his job, but it was the way that Wenjing provided the customer device that made a difference. He saw my need, he problem solved to be proactive, and he did it cheerfully. I was not a bother or a second thought. My needs were of top priority until solutions were found. He saw each issue through until the very end. For the record, Wenjing did give me permission to post his picture and use his real name.

In yesterday’s post, I had said, “Good customer service needs to be celebrated; poor customer service needs to be reported.” I think I need to amend that. Good customer service needs to be reported in the same way negative experiences need to be reported. While this takes time, it is so important! I have heard that a bad experience is much more likely to be reported than a positive experience. In addition, public perception requires 10 positive comments and experiences to change just one negative comment or experience. Good companies need to know what they are doing well so that they keep doing those good things!

I would love to hear about other companies that are providing good customer service. Share them with me…and with them…

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