Customer Service in Living Color… It got me thinking

This won’t be one of your typical blogs, suggesting solutions to problems. In fact, I need your help to prevent a situation that could jeopardize client satisfaction and potential sales.

First, I’ll try to make a very long story as short as possible (party names have been eliminated or altered).

Several years ago, I purchased a vacation ownership property. I know what you may be thinking, “sucker” or “uh oh, another time share disaster!” Honestly, I’ve had a great experience and referred many friends. This property company is one of the most prestigious—voted the top program in the industry over the past six years.

In the fall, we took our semi-annual family pilgrimage to Scottsdale; one last blast of great weather to get us through the winter. After one night in our unit, we went out on the town with an old college buddy and his wife. We came back late to find our daughter with a temperature. When preparing to call it a night, my wife happened to notice a large, unwanted insect underneath one of the sofas my daughter was about to go to sleep on. This late night was about to get even later as the following sequence of events took place:

  • 1 am: We begin frantically trying to “eliminate” the problem. How many more were there?
  • 1:30 am: I called the front desk to reach “Josh” on the frontlines who emphatically apologizes on behalf of the resort. He states that, “The property manager, will contact you immediately. Meanwhile, I’ll seek out alternate rooms for your family.” So far, so good.
  • 2:15 am: Josh calls back. His voice is not as confident this time. “I am so sorry, the property is sold out… what else can we do for you? Can we spray the room?” My request is to remove and replace the furniture that appears to have the issue. High maintenance? Possibly. Josh pushes forward working with someone in engineering and confirms that a team will come to the room very soon, to move out the furniture and bring a rollout bed to get us through until the morning. Josh is earning points in my book.
  • 3:00 am: A knock on the door. Employees from the engineering department arrive with sincere apologizes as well. They want to make the situation right, and offer “breakfast for your family to show our appreciation of your patience with us.” A+ effort for the engineering department.
  • 7:00 am: Indeed, the breakfast voucher is in our hands! We enjoyed and appreciated a very nice breakfast on behalf of the resort.

The story does not end here… What this resort team does not realize is that first thing in the morning, we have the annual “program upgrade” pitch. This is when the resort tries to get you to upgrade or purchase more shares—typically very successful conversion.

I have to ask you at this point, “What’s missing?”

If your answer is that the manager never entered the picture you’re correct.  Apparently, our situation had been delegated. I did not complain to the sales representative during their pitch about our experience. But of course it weighed on my decision, and no, they did not get the sale that day.

This got me thinking: How often did I delegate the same thing to my “customer service” teams in the past? Do any of us have a solid “resolution” process? What does it look like? We all must believe we have the processes in place to resolve issues like this. After all, the initial response to my complaint was dealt with swiftly and appropriately. But there was still a definitive miss. When do clients deserve to be reached out to by management? Are we really too busy to get personally involved? Needless to say, instead of enjoying the rest of the day, I was distracted by these questions.

I have to ask you: “What more could they have done? As managers, how do you mitigate this risk in your own business model?”

Tom Frengillo, Chief Operating Officer, Red Book Solutions


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