Just how integral is customer service in travel?
EXTREMELY Essential. Within the hospitality and travel industry, I would dare say it is the end-all and be-all of a company.
You see, travel and holidays can easily be an individual’s (or family’s or couples’) biggest expense for the tax-year. Holidays are that shining beacon that gets people (like me anyway) going through their daily toll. Therefore, expectations are at an all-time high when the most-awaited time comes.
According to Kissmetrics, a website focusing on analytics, marketing and testing, 81% of consumers are more likely to give a company repeated business after good service. It’s a no-brainer but it’s not as simple or easy as it seems, and sadly some companies still do not realise and grasp this fully.
It’s not so surprising that plenty of companies invest in customer experience and reputation management services like Qualtrics. It keeps customers happy and attract new ones either via word of mouth or genuine reviews.
The science of customer service– what makes clients come back for more and recommend it to their family and friends? What makes them shun a product or brand for life?
It’s not about the customer being always right. It’s about the brand being able to provide their client a memorable experience. So unforgettable, that the experience makes them a loyal and repeat customer.
An inferior product can sometimes be overlooked because of exceptional customer service. And at the same time, a superior product and brand can be rendered useless with horrible (or lack of) customer service. As someone once said, you don’t remember the exact words that others tell you, but what will stay with you is how those words made you feel.
Whenever I travel, I always look out for exceptional customer service. It’s part of what makes travel memorable, and adds to that “holy smithereens” travel moments that I seek.
And so I’m starting a series of blog posts dedicated solely to exceptional customer service. This will be a no-frills post series called “People Awards”. Because customer service is all about people with the right training and attitude. People in customer service jobs often get paid minimum and while there are stories of horrible customer service, I would like to focus on the ones I experienced that are exemplary.
And so I will start with what is probably the most impressive customer experience I’ve had to date.
Unrelenting Service – The Case of The Missing Camera…and Scarf.
People Awards rating: 5 out of 5 stars!
Brand/Company: Malaysia Airlines
Product/Service: Business Class flight Sydney to Kuala Lumpur MH 122
And by unrelenting, I mean it in the most positive manner. Not too long ago I was on a flight from Sydney to London Heathrow via Kuala Lumpur with Malaysia Airlines. And I don’t know about you but when I get on a flight- be it business or economy class, I need to “nest”. By that I need to have my must-have paraphernalia within reach. Phone, camera, passport, pens, tissues, book/magazine, pillow, eyemask, socks, vitamins/meds, gum–when I’ve got those within reach, only then can I truly relax on a flight.
And having a lot of things stashed in all crevices nearby can definitely work against me too.
In the middle of the flight, after waking up from a nap, I went to the lavatory to freshen up and when I got back to my seat, I noticed that my point and shoot camera was missing. After much fumbling and digging deep into every pocket, socket and crevices possible (with the help of the passenger next to me), I finally sought assistance from the cabin crew.
The 2 cabin crew assigned to our zone then began the ruthless search for the point and shoot camera. After turning the seat inside out, with different types of flash lights and searching all nooks and corners nearby, still nothing. Then one of the cabin crew suggested a last resort solution- to open up the seat. The business class seats have a hardshell type back, and they got all the tools necessary to open some part of it.
Mind you this was mid-flight, and we were doing this search to the annoyance of other passengers who were trying to enjoy their flight. And we were on the search for close to 30 minutes. Both cabin crew, who were once in very crisp and immaculate uniform, were now sweaty and dishevelled from the search. Seat cushions were being torn away from seats, and still no sign of the camera.
One of them even went underneath the seat shell (like a mechanic under a car chassis) and still no camera.
I finally told them that maybe it really is just missing /stolen and that is it. I reached the point of giving up.
But both the cabin crew were adamant that we don’t stop until we find it (isn’t it usually the other way around? haha 🙂 ) One of them even said “No, we have to find it. It’s has to be here somewhere, I just saw you using it taking photos of your food.”— Oops, I haven’t yet mastered the art of a travel blogger taking photos unobtrusively. 😉
And as we took a break from the search and sat there discussing where else it could be, one of them casually checked the tray stowage compartment (under the armrest) of the passenger next to me and VOILA!!! No words. Just no words.
And just when you think this is where I live happily ever after with my not-so-long lost camera…no, the saga (and unyielding customer service) continues.
I said my goodbyes and heartfelt thank yous to the entire crew, most in particular Mr Lee and Mr Chuah. Spent some time in Kuala Lumpur International Airport (stocking up on makeup, as one normally does after almost losing a camera) before boarding my connecting flight to London.
And there I was sitting idly on the terminal gate, when a Malaysian Airlines ground staff approached me. “Are you Ms Lim?”
She was carrying a very familiar item. My scarf! Which I didn’t even realise I left on the aircraft!
“I’ve been looking and waiting for you. I believe this is yours and Mr Lee has a message for you- PLEASE TAKE GOOD CARE OF YOUR BELONGINGS and PLEASE, Please Please. DON’T LOSE ANYTHING AGAIN” (or something along those lines as I was just in awe of the magnitude of this customer service, and of how hopeless and embarrassing I really am)
Red-faced, highly impressed, and extremely grateful. Thank you, Malaysia Airlines. Thank you.