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New TipsVery often in booming economies there will be businesses who because they are doing so well forget that “the customer is their business”, that without the customer there will be no business and that the customer ignored today will be the customer who will not only go somewhere else but would hardly be likely to return to your organization in the future. The fact is that no matter what the strength of the economy you must treat each customer as a valuable asset.  One of the areas where there seems to be a boom is the area of travel services. This management tip is based on a real incident that occurred this week in Chaguanas.

Sometime back, I called one of the leading travel agencies to obtain information and a ticket and maybe three altogether to Tampa, Florida. Here is how the experience went. The telephone was answered after about five or six rings.  For the customer, this could be frustrating.  The Receptionist was polite  and having explained to her what I wanted she transferred me to one of her ticketing clerks. That clerk did not answer the extension causing her to transfer me to another.

The clerk gave her name and asked how she could help me. Good, I thought.  I explained that I wanted a ticket to Tampa Florida. With less than 30 seconds gone in the conversation, she asked that I hold on. In a couple of seconds she came back on the phone to ask if I could call her back in five minutes.  I replied that I would call another travel agency.  Her reply was a simple, “Okay!”

Let’s examine what happened here.

1.       The number of rings after the phone was answered was too many. A phone should be answered within two rings, maximum three.

2.       As a customer I was not alerted that there might be a wait. Even at the stage of the receptionist,  the receptionist could have taken my number and indicate that the clerks were attending to other customers and I would be called back within twenty minutes.

3.       The Clerk gave the impression that my business was not important.  The moment she indicated to me that I should call back in five minutes she had lost my business.  What would it have taken from her to explain that she was attending to another customer and asked that I call back in five minutes? I replied that I would call another agency. She simply said, Okay.  My business might not be important today, but in an economy that is not booming in the future I am sure that I would be receiving calls to solicit my business. I never called back. In fact I went on the computer and booked my tickets online.  Today, travel agencies seem not to realize that there are opportunities in the travel business to obtain tickets through the internet with little hassle.

Suppose this morning I had chosen to tell you the name of that travel company! Do you realize the negative publicity that travel agency would have gotten? And given that a customer tells a good experience to only between five and eight persons, and a bad experience to between eleven to fifteen persons, and assume I tell this experience to 10 persons and those ten repeat it to others, just imagine the impact of that clerk having created a negative experience.

The clerk’s behavior is only a reflection of the attitude of the management of the organization, and the emphasis the organization probably places on customer service training.

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