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Randi Busse says that employees come before customers because you won’t have the customers if you don’t have the right employees taking care of them.
AMITYVILLE, N.Y. — Randi Busse brings a special perspective to the challenges of chauffeured transportation. On a professional level, the founder and president of the Workforce Development Group Inc. advises businesses on how to improve their customer service. On a personal level, she uses the chauffeured services of limousine operators about once a month.
“I draw upon my customer experience to talk about how companies are taking care of customers,” said Busse, who advises companies and groups on customer retention. As a speaker, Busse has appeared before the Maryland Limousine Association, the Long Island Limousine Association, the New England Livery Association, and the Philadelphia Regional Limousine Association. “I am passionate about the experiences I have as a customer. I feel like I’m a voice for the customers.”
Upon returning from a business trip that included chauffeured service, Busse shared her insights with LCT Magazine in late October about the state of customer service and what operators are missing.
Q: How has the recession changed service expectations among customers and standards among service providers?
I think companies are starting to realize that customers are being picky about who they are spending money with. If customers are not being treated well, they will not do business with you. We’ve become more finicky. If we spend money, we want to get good ROI. Companies have to be more competitive and attentive. If all they do is spit out price, they will not give customers a clear differentiation between companies.
I make test calls and pretend to be a prospective customer. I am amazed what type of conversations and non-conversations I’m having with companies. I call a company and they answer, “Limousines!” Or they sound interrupted when I’m calling. Or they just give me price. No one is asking me for my business. When customers are calling, they have a need. Someone will solve that problem or need for them. They want to call someone who wants their business, knows what they are talking about, and will do whatever is necessary to delight the customer. You can’t look like a million dollars and sound like a $1.50.
Q: What examples of good customer service practices have you observed in chauffeured transportation?
I wish I had 100 of them to share. But I have to tell you I’m not terribly impressed with the type of experiences I have with test calls and when I’m a passenger. The best type of experience is when the chauffeur reads you and is focused on you.
Q:What then are some examples of bad customer service practices you have observed in chauffeured transportation?
I took a ride [recently] and the chauffeur talked incessantly. I was looking forward to downtime, thinking, making phone calls, and looking through e-mail. He kept talking about the sights, the Yankees, etc. I wasn’t interested in having a conversation. That’s part of the customer experience. It’s knowing your passenger and taking your cue from the passenger. If the passenger is chatting with you, then have a conversation. If the passenger is not talking, then just drive and that’s the end of it.
I had another driver who put on classical music, which was nice. He then changed it and put on rock music. That was not my taste of music. The ride should be about me, not about him. When you think of who’s touching your customer, the chauffeur has just as much of an impact on the customer experience as the people answering the phone. You have to delight them or disappoint them.
Another driver on a ride was wearing heavy cologne. That bothered me because I have a sensitivity to smell. It was a long car ride. One had a jacket, the other didn’t. One had a newspaper in the back of the car, the other one didn’t. Consistency is important, especially if I’m using the same company over and over again.
Once at 6 a.m., I had a car waiting for me outside of a hotel. I assumed it was mine. The chauffeur took my bag and put it in the trunk and didn’t say anything to me. How did he know I was the right passenger? I said I was “Randi Busse” and gave him the name of my company. He said, “OK.” I told him I was headed to the airport. He said, “OK.” I told him I was flying to Ohio. He said, “OK.” I was doing all the work. I don’t want to do all the work. You need to make it easy for customers to do business with you.