Prior to my career in the direct selling industry, I spent ten years in the travel industry, back in the UK, where I grew up in a northern town of Halifax. During my career in the travel industry, I had worked for a well known global travel company, Thomas Cook, a company that has been in business since 1845. I graduated high school to then study travel and somehow managed to work my way up through the ranks from trainee sales consultant to assistant manager, then branch manager, and so on.
In the town of Halifax, there were 20 or so other travel agencies all competing for business. I would often walk past the windows of these other agencies, as part of doing a competitor marketing analysis. I recall seeing advertisements such as, FREE holiday insurance, or 5% discount on your holiday/vacation, FREE bus ride’s to the airport. You name it, they had it.
As a company Thomas Cook and their staff, prided themselves on delivering exceptional customer service and all staff were sent for a week long intense training on how to deliver world class customer service.
The best training I’d ever experienced back then.
Then I got to thinking what if…we could all deliver that level of excellence in each of our business’s? How awesome that would be.
Interestingly, Thomas Cook were not known for offering the lowest cost or FREE anything, instead they became well respected and known for delivering an exceptionally high level of quality customer service. One method they used to measure this, as I can recall was, several times throughout the year sales consultants would be “mystery shopped”. Another tool that was used to measure service was a video in a back office, to be able to watch customer and sales consultant interactions. The video was then later used for “coaching” purposes to discuss things like, was the customer greeted promptly upon entering the agency? Did the sales consultant get up to greet them or did they remain seated? How long did the consultant spend with the customer? I remember, how we would treat potential cruise customers in particular, they were invited downstairs into plushly decorated office that had relaxing comfy leather sofa’s, surrounded by greenery and relaxing music and were offered a glass of champagne or something bubbly. Once they were comfortable and relaxed we consulted with them to determine their needs, likes, dislikes, travel dates, etc. and invited them to watch an appropriate cruise video, tailored to suit their needs.
What we did and did with excellence in my opinion and indeed better as a whole, was to provide customers with an all round exceptional ‘experience’. We gave them an experience, a feeling and something to remember, something that distinguished and differentiated us from the other 20 travel agencies out there. The thing is, we did not have the least expensive vacations and yet our customers just kept coming back, time and time again and they referred their friends and their friends, and their friend’s friend’s too!
In thinking about customer service and the customer experience as you relate this to your own business, what is it that you do to provide a value added customer service experience? How do you set yourself apart from the competition, and do your pride yourself on offering the best price, the best service, or a combination of both?
Several companies today that in my opinion provide excellent service are companies and brands like Virgin, Apple, Brendon Burchard, Nike, Zappos, Southwest Airlines, Thomas Cook, Amazon and more…
What are your thoughts, what does it take to provide excellent customer service and how well are we doing here in the USA as a whole? Do we have room to improve?
Love to see your comments, feel free to ask your questions and know I’ll be reviewing comments personally.