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When I first started staying at the Neptune Motel, they had a decent continental breakfast with a good selection of donuts, bread for toast, muffins, fresh fruit and more. My favorite items where the orange juice and the little packets of Carnation Hot Chocolate that I would mix with my coffee.

The motel rooms were nice and new, the towels fluffy. I even liked the hand lotion. It didn't dry my hands like some alcohol based lotions and it didn't make them feel greasy; they felt just right after rubbing on the lotion.

In the three years or so that I've been staying there, a couple times a month or so, things have changed. The carpets are showing stains, the towels seem thinner and so is the hand lotion. The selection for breakfast has dwindled. There are no more donuts. The hot chocolate is gone, and the orange juice has changed to a cheaper brand and now tastes watered down. I never eat the complimentary breakfast anymore.

About a hundred yards down the street is another motel where I can stay for about 20% less and yet, I choose to stay at the Neptune.

What keeps me coming back is Betty, the morning desk clerk. I like her. She's friendly and always has a smile. When the Neptune decided to raise their rates, Betty fought for my standing commercial rate. She won. I stay. When Betty goes, I will, too. And I'm sure she will be going.

Just as the Neptune has continually shown a lack of understanding of service to me as a client, I'm willing to bet they show the same disregard also for their internal customer service programs as well. I have seen turnover at the desk many times in the last three years. I've not heard Betty complain, but one day she will move on like others before her, and the Neptune will lose a great employee and at least one steady customer.

To stay competitive, businesses have to recognize what our customers and our employees need. If we don't take the time to assess those needs . . . and fill them, we run the risk of losing both.

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