Tuesday, July 31
Too Much Customer Service?
I was traveling recently in Southeast Asia, a week long trip for a couple of key meetings in the region. Although I didn't get a chance to stay very long, I did get a taste of the incredible culture and plan to book some extra time on my next trip.
In my travels, though, I did make a strange observation that is so counter to anything I've written in my books that I just had to point it out. Clearly it's cultural and something that we are just not used to here in the US. But it did get me asking myself ...
Is there such a thing as too much customer service?
I flew Cathay Pacific airline and stayed at The Mandarin Oriental hotel. Two travel and hospitality brands known for their outstanding customer service. Best in class and I experienced it myself.
From the first immediate interaction, everyone addressed me by name and then never stopped. They checked in with me constantly. On the airline, they made sure I was feeling ok and had plenty of water. And they wanted to know why (roundtrip) I wasn't eating very much. They wanted to know why in case it was because the food was bad or I was not well.
At the hotel, they came around from the desk to greet me, escorted me up to my room, gave me a room tour, and then proceeded to ask me my food choices for room service and news delivery. When I hesitated a bit, they asked me again. They wanted to know my preferences! When I checked out, they literally walked me out the front door to my car and closed the door behind me.
Now I hope that this doesn't sound like American snobbery, but it was almost too much. Too much customer service. When I travel, I like to be quiet and alone. It's a little bit of "me" time in a world where I never get any "me" time. So I don't like a lot of questions and I don't necessarily like being followed around, as secure as that might sound when in a new location. Ok I'll say it ... I like a little anonymity.
So is there such a thing as too much customer service?
This is obviously a personal question and one that is partly culturally based. Clearly the teams at these two companies are trained on personal customer service, much of which comes from their deep heritage as a region and culture. I honor that and embrace that. And truthfully I welcome it for the next trip. It's just a little bit outside of my comfort zone, but truthfully we can never be cared for too much.
Which is exactly why it's so cool to experience the globe, and all of its nuances, all through the various cultures and experiences.
So what do you think? Is there such a thing as too much customer service ... what's your experience? Jim.
President, Cohn & Wolfe North America
Author, The Experience Effect series