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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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The Key To Everything? Customer Service (STILL!)

Customer service. The term is thrown out like freebies, party invites, pitches and proposals at NADA. Customer support? Customer satisfaction? Customer focused? What do your vendors call it? Does that come after reviewing how many days or weeks they’re allowed after you open a ticket for something that should be a 1-2 hour operation? Customer service should be about the…wait for it, CUSTOMER!

What we call customer service has morphed over the years, likely more based on scale, capacity, programming and software than the requirement to actually take care of the customer. Very few businesses, still today, put the customer first however their marketing screams service.

And not following any of the “blueprint” norms really comes through. Does your website, SEO, SEM, mobile, call tracking and chat companies really show an amazing zest for paying attention to you? And back you up? And surprise you from time to time?

Recently my experiences with a couple airlines showcased, in more detail, what happens to really separate customer service from promises of service and marketing. With the changes that Delta Airlines has applied to its SkyMiles program to qualify for 2014 status, the reduction of benefits for my level (Silver Elite) of status including the amount of complimentary bags you can check in (now one, so “bag” is more appropriate) and, seemingly, the ongoing increase in SkyMiles it takes to book an award ticket, coupled with the number of flights I’ve taken on Alaska (claiming Delta SkyMiles) over the past couple years with great on-board experience the decision to switch programs happened last month.

While I’m no social media superstar or influencer, Delta has followed me on Twitter for quite a while and has, for the most part, responded to my tweets and mentions whenever they happen. My tweets talking about my switch to Alaska Airlines resulted in no mentions from Delta’s online teams (including @Delta and @DeltaAssist) to keep me loyal, however Alaska Airlines (@AlaskaAir) followed immediately and has mentioned back as well as sent direct messages. And that is on top of the significantly better experience when flying them.

On my last flight, Alaska’s ticket counter staff was fantastic, accommodating my bag without question (my previous flight they accommodated two, one more than Delta and I didn’t have MVP status on Alaska!). My bag, which was checked in 32 minutes before the flight made it and the gate agent addressed every customer when boarding by their first name. Class acts for sure and to top it off, the counter agent matched my Delta status on Alaska effective immediately; One person, empowered to make that happen, however the impression and experience did so much more. With a smile on her face making me smile and thinking about how to make our customers’ experience even better.

So what does this make you think about? Your investment, or lack of, in customer service? Whether you have a satisfaction agent or not?

Many companies wrap themselves in customer service; however when was the last time they paid you a visit entirely based on anything but a report, pitch, upsell or because they were asked to?

 

Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results

 
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Ken Potter
Nice post!
Bryan Armstrong
It's still the little things that have the power to amaze. Creating a Brand advocate doesn't need to cost a lot in terms of money, but it will require you to pay attention.

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