Customer ExperienceEngagementIndustryMission Delivery

Make Each Member Experience “Delightful”

By July 3, 2012 No Comments

This month, teammate Mary Katherine and I visited a long-time Daxko partner and beloved customer, the Cleveland County Family Y in North Carolina. Other teammate Britney, bonafide member engagement enthusiast, created a Member Service Workshop program for us to deliver, and we were pumped! This trip was going to be simply fun—an opportunity to connect with their membership staff face-to-face, brainstorm on engagement tactics, and make sure we are all doing everything in our power to create a “delightful” member experience.

While on the road, Mary Katherine and I had a rather “un-delightful” experience with our rental car company. Mid-drive, cruising at 65 MPH on the interstate, the blinkers stopped functioning. Immediately after, the car doors starting locking, then locking, locking, then unlocking by themselves. We were now driving a possessed Nissan Versa.

I frantically pulled out the two-sided, six-paged rental car agreement to find the site number. It was nowhere to be found on the agreement, only an 800 national number (which I knew would redirect me at least three times before I could talk to a real human being.) Once we got the site number, I was able to speak with a rep. She told us to pull off at the next exit and deliver our Versa to a rental car site there. She promised they would switch cars with us immediately: no muss, no fuss. She would also call ahead of time to make sure they had cars available and warm them of our panicked arrival.

We arrived at a very sketchy, worn-down location. The manager (also the only employee on staff) never received a warning phone call that we were arriving, so we delivered our story from the start. As Mary Katherine explained the situation, he was unresponsive, unconcerned, and frankly seemed bored. He even tried to double-charge her for bringing back a bad car with half a tank of gas (she originally arranged for pre-paid gas) After demanding fair treatment, he reluctantly complied. We tossed our bags in the new (half-tank full) Volkswagen Jetta and continued our journey.

Luckily, we arrived at our destination on time. But another surprise waited for us. As we left the Y parking lot, Mary Katherine spotted a dent on the rear bumper of our car. A really big dent. Another call to the rental car company this time to tell them our new car was the victim of a hit and run.

I am sure the rental car company would stamp us as “undesirable customers,” given that we left in one car and arrived back in a different, damaged car. We were tired, frustrated, and not sure how to handle this obscure situation. Back at the rental car site, the manager was dismissive and slow to respond. I understand they had other customers to serve, but we felt like a “burden” on her because she kept bouncing from one group to another. I had to actually go back into her office to ask a question because she disappeared for a while.

This colorful experience got us thinking about what the three rental car company representatives could have done to make this situation a delightful one. Here are some simple suggestions I learned from working for Daxko:

  1. Treat customers one at a time.
    The manager at the rental car site shuffled us around with other customers, even though we were “ahead of” some people. This made us feel our problem was less important. The reality is, we did not mind that the manager was trying to help several customers—the problem was we felt shorted. Whenever you work with customers face-to-face, please remember the following: make eye contact, smile, and assure the customer that you will take care of them. Make sure Customer A is happy before moving on to Customer B.
  2. Follow through.
    My first contact over the phone with the rep was highly positive. She seemed so “on top of” my situation and gave me specific instructions for trading our cars. However, she failed to follow through on the two actions she proposed. This made the situation at the second rental site especially confusing.Every facility I have ever entered has a Suggestion Box. What good is it if you do not respond to the comments? According to Britney’s Exceptional Service training, customer-facing staff should always have a response ready for members or customers they cannot help at the moment. For example, if a member complains about the pool temperature at the front desk, the worst response it to push back and give the “that’s not my job” response. It is even worse to respond with an “OK, I’ll let the director know,” and the member never hears a word from anyone.
  3. Listen first. Empathize. Then take Action.
    We felt that the manager at the second rental car site was not truly listening to our story. His responses did not align with our situation, and we kept repeating the same information over and over. I have to remind myself to listen to customers’ questions and stop anticipating my response. Listening is not a pause from talking—it involves blocking out your mental chatter and focusing completely on what the customer is communicating.Once you understand the problem or request, you need to express that you understand or empathize with your situation. Teammate Amy is a genius in this area. I have heard her talk to people on the phone and she naturally empathizes with people’s problems, even if it has nothing to do with her. This is a simple as, “I am so sorry to hear that. I had a similar experience {insert details here} and it was not pleasant. Let’s see that I can do for you.”
  4. Don’t let policies keep you from “wowing” the customer.
    I stole this one directly for Britney. She empowers her Daxko Engage team to deliver exceptional, unexpected, and delightful customer service. This means having an understanding of the rules, without letting them get in the way of creating raving fans.Southwest Airlines also embraces this idea. On a flight that had to land unexpectedly for fuel, the Southwest attendants handed out free drinks (adult beverages) and let passengers ask trivia questions on the loudspeaker. We had such a fun time fueling up, we did not mind the 30-minute delay.

These items may seem simple, because they are. The challenge is to live these ideals day in and day out for each and every customer. Our experience with the rental car company did not have to be a disaster. The company had multiple opportunities to make a bad situation a delightful one, but they chose otherwise.

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