Saturday, April 3, 2010

Expectations: How Consistent Is Your Service?

Recently I encountered a disparity of Customer Service that pointed up the necessity of consistency. I was on my way to the HDI 2010 Conference in Orlando, and had chosen to fly into Sanford, Florida, because I could get a direct flight from Bangor, Maine and save 4 hours and a connection. My plane arrived about 20 minutes early. (Yes, you read that correctly.) I had arranged for a shuttle ride from Sanford to the conference. I had the instructions on where to find the shuttle when I emerged from the terminal. I looked, but found no shuttle in the lot.

I walked over to the friendly-looking taxi stand and asked if they knew whether I was in the right place for the shuttle. They said that I was, and suggested I go to the shuttle company booth nearby. I did, and found a very friendly woman named Debbie. She was surprised I was early and suggested that I could get out of the wind and grab a soda or coffee inside the terminal. Then she said, "I'll come and find you when the shuttle gets here." Now, that's a good service attitude, I said to myself.

I didn't go inside, but sat out in the breeze and enjoyed the sunshine. A short while later, the van with the company's logo appeared and parked. I stood up to let the driver know I was there. Quickly, he put up his hand in the "talk to the hand" position and called across the lot, "We're not going anywhere yet," in a less than friendly manner. What a letdown!

We were apparently waiting for another flight to come in, and that one was running late. I say "apparently" because I overheard some other people talking, not because the driver informed me. I was very disappointed. Then, after I got into the van, the driver was missing some papers, and told (not asked) me to get back out so he could check the seat where I was sitting. (I knew there was nothing there and told him as much.)

So, the next time I fly into Sanford, should I take that shuttle? Would I recommend it to my friends? I don't think so. Did I get from the airport to the hotel? Yes. Was it a good experience? No.

Too bad Debbie wasn't driving.

Give it some thought.


  1. Wow Roy,

    What an experience! The inconsistency in the service you received is remarkable. Clearly, this company does not have a customer centric culture. Rather, they have some customer centric employees who caught your eye and provided excellent service. My bet is that they are embarrassed by the drivers behavior, or at the least, discouraged by it. If this company had a service culture, this driver would no longer be working there.

    Insightful post...thanks for sharing your experience,

  2. Degraffenreid talks about 4 keys to driving referral business (NUDE): Novelty, Utility, Dependability and Economy.

    Dependability...or consistency is one area in which a business can easily improve to drive more referrals.

    Apparently they don't need/want referrals. So sad.

    Thanks for sharing :)

  3. Thanks, Jen and Leslie for your comments.

    Jen - You're correct - the company's culture does not focus on Customer Service, or the driver would be acting very differently. I was really taken aback by his behavior, right from the start, especially after the cordial treatment from Debbie.

    Leslie- It's easy to see how Dependability maps back to Consistency. Getting consistent service engenders the feeling of confidence that a company will do what it supposed to do. Frankly, I was half expecting the service not to pick me up for my return trip. (They did, and the driver was 5 minutes early.)

    Thank you both for stopping by The Think Zone.