It’s ALL Customer Service: An Ounce of Prevention

not a through st 1800 x 1200This is the first in a series of posts about customer service, in all its various and glorious forms. Work-wise, it was my first love, and it’s still near and dear to my heart.

Many successes and failures are made in an organization’s most basic communications. I’m talking about what we now call Frequently Asked Questions, especially very frequently asked questions.

What questions come in by phone or email the most? Your hours, your location, program or product details?

Put that information on your website! Duh, right? But take a look at your site, is it really there?

Sites for companies with many locations often say, “Call for hours.”  Yes, it would be challenging and take time to keep that information up to date, but having countless employees picking up the phone countless times per day is a staggering waste of resources.

Maintaining program or product details is even more of a commitment, but the time savings and error prevention can be considerable, and if the information’s accurate, employees can use the site as a resource, too.

Are you distributing printed materials with outdated information? Is there even someone responsible for that?

Recently I went to Las Vegas for work and reached the hotel at midnight to find a long, slow check-in line.  I was eventually directed to elevator 1a. On the 4th floor I followed a sign that said Rooms 4020 – 4045 or some such, but reached a dead-end before my room, 4035.  A nice security guard opened a fire door and walked me to my room.  When asked, he pleasantly gave me incomprehensible instructions for next time, mentioning Starbuck’s as a guide, “But not the Starbuck’s downstairs, or the Starbuck’s on the other side.”

The next day, here’s what I got:  “Go to Elevator 2 through the casino.”  Elevator 2 turned out to be a bank of four elevators, each marked with a 1 for first floor. “The sign on the wall will say access to floors 6-15. Disregard that. In the elevator, press the button for 2 – there will be one – and get off on the 2nd floor. Go around the next corner to the other elevator. Take that to 4th floor.  Follow the signs to your room.”  Voilà!

Building the so-and-so theater cut into the elevator shaft, she said.  Fine. When was that, yesterday? No, four years ago. What about the Floors 6-15 sign nowhere near the theater?  Even homeless people can get hold of cardboard and markers. Perhaps management vetoed handmade signs, because they’d be tacky? Oh, wait, it’s a casino.

People make mistakes and things break, that’s part of life. Wrong-elevator-woman, the room phone, the pop machine, I get that.  But that hotel has over 4,400 rooms. How many guests are needlessly lost, aggravated, and wasting time day after day?  How many employees?

If you know, please add a comment. I’ll leave the light on for you.

Photo: Alan Levine