Operations

How To Deal With Service Problems Before They Worsen

Posted on October 17, 2014 by John M. Greene

Page 1 of 2

Customer Service Rule No. 1: Connect the client with the chauffeur.
Customer Service Rule No. 1: Connect the client with the chauffeur.

Service mistakes happens to the best of companies. And whether you’ve been in business 30 years or three years, it will most likely happen to you. The question is: When it does happen, how will you deal with it?

A few years ago, an excellent client, a company we had worked with for years, had an executive flying from Boston to Texas, where I would be handing her off to one of our affiliates when she got off the plane in Dallas. Unfortunately, when she landed, the chauffeur was nowhere to be found and for some reason the company was unable to track his whereabouts. As it turns out, the chauffeur went to the wrong airport and I had one very unhappy corporate vice president to deal with.

I immediately went into mea culpa mode as it would have been easy to blame the affiliate, but it was my call and I needed to take the hit. I contacted the client personally, made a thousand apologies, offered her free transportation anywhere she wanted to go (even that I would drive her personally), and prayed she had a forgiving nature. Turns out she did. She’s still our client.  

The key here is not to ignore the problem hoping it will go away. Only the client will disappear, at least until she pops up on social media and lambasts your company. What’s the theory? Happy customers tell one person; unhappy customers tell 10? That sounds about right, unless she has 1,000 BFFs on Facebook.

We handle 200-300 runs per day, all with the potential to go south at any time. But in an industry with a low profit margin, you can’t afford mistakes. There must be a very low margin for error. Fortunately, we have seen less than a 1% occurrence of error. Any ground transportation company with a culture that believes bad things will happen no matter what they do will not be long for an industry so corporate dependent. Yes, mistakes will happen, but the key is not to cultivate a breeding ground where they are likely and then ignore them when they do occur. It all starts with a preventative approach in two areas: your vehicles and your chauffeurs. This means you have to deal with potential mechanical breakdowns and human relations.

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