Working in the service industry for 20+ years, I’ve become quite fascinated with how companies, in any industry, approach the customer experience. For the most part, when contacting a customer service department, I enjoy those moments of seeing how a company is going to handle solving my issue. I am either going to take away a good experience to share with my team that will excite and encourage us to continue our quest for world class service, or be a part of something negative that will remind me of the importance of good service.
I recently traveled to Baltimore for the ACLEA conference and then directly to NABE in San Franscisco where I had an excellent time meeting with wonderful clients and executive directors prior to heading back home to sunny and hot Austin, Texas. My flights which were booked through a very popular travel service, were for the most part smooth and I encountered no issues in my 10 days of travel. That is, until my final flight home was cancelled three hours before takeoff.
On the road, I contacted the travel company’s customer service department and found that they were not adding an additional flight to the schedule and they decided to book me on an 11pm flight arriving in Austin at 4am with no other alternatives. Adding to the situation, I was traveling back to Austin with my 80+ year old parents for a visit with the grandkids. After several calls to the travel company and the airline company, this was the only option offered to me. I was a little perplexed by the lack of options available, the absence of urgency to resolve my issue, and the dearth of ownership. After six different phone calls taking up two hours of my time, I was finally booked on a flight the next day with zero compensation. Although my issue was solved and we had a new flight time, I did not feel compensated for the inconvenience, nor did I feel that they did their best to right the wrong. In the end they resolved my root issue but I was left with a service void. As a consumer I wasn’t fixed!
In my quest to offer our InReach end users and clients the best possible experience in every interaction, I’ve learned that solving the issue in a timely manner is not the only goal of a support team. Every customer interaction is unique, not because each issue is unique but the customer is different in every contact. Therefore, our service must be tailored and the focus should not only be on the issue but the customer as a whole. One of my peers in the service industry coined this as “fixing the customer” and not just the issue. If we focus on fixing each customer that contacts InReach support, we are then able to tailor our service to the customers who may be disgruntled, angry, indifferent, anxious, impatient, stressed, dissatisfied, or even happy and content. Whatever the case, it is our goal not only to resolve each and every issue, but to focus on molding the individual user experience to impact the customer in a life changing way. At InReach, I take 100% pride in the belief that our service is a direct extension of the continuing education product experience. The better off each and every customer leaves our support organization, the more likely they are to not only purchase additional content from our affiliates but their desire to evangelize to their peers about the great product and service can be quite contagious.
With all of the options available to customers these days, one must not underestimate the power of service when choosing their learning education provider. I like to believe it is one of the “secret sauces” to our success in the learning education industry. What priority is service to you when choosing your preferred learning platform?
Director of Operations