Small Concerns Are Big Issues For Customer Service Quality

Minerva Biven

Dubai International Airport is one of my favorite airports in the world. It’s big, clean and exciting. But in such a terrific environment, little inconveniences stand out and impact customer service quality. Inside this great airport is a modern and attractive hotel. Inside the transit area is an elevator going up from arrivals and departures to the hotel floors.

In the elevator, clear buttons read: Departures, Arrivals, Hotel 1, and Hotel 2.

If you wanted to check-in at the hotel, which button would you push?

We pushed “Hotel 1,” which took us to a residential floor with no reception desk; only a long hallway with locked hotel room doors.

We got back in the elevator and pushed “Hotel 2,” which took us up to another floor with a long hallway of locked doors.

We got back in the elevator and wondered where to go. Thinking we must have missed something, we returned to the departure level.

Once again, however, there was nothing and no one to assist us. Finally, with only one choice left, we got back in the elevator and pressed “Arrivals.”

Stepping out of the elevator we turned left and walked toward a bar in a large lobby area. It was early afternoon and no one was behind the counter.

We turned around and saw another counter across the lobby. There was no sign, but there were two people waving at us and smiling.

We crossed the landing and found ourselves, finally, at the hotel reception counter. The whole experience was one that really left a sour impression about customer service quality.

When I explained what happened in the elevator, the staff apologized and said, “We know. It happens all the time.”

I asked why there was no sign in the elevator pointing to the hotel reception desk. I asked why there was no sign outside the elevator directing guests to “Reception.” I asked why there was no sign even at the desk itself. All of these things harm customer service quality.

“We know,” she said again politely. “Everyone asks us that. We have asked for signs many times, but we are still waiting. The airport did a renovation behind the desk recently to change the colors, and we were hoping for signs, but they did not come.”

On my way out, we took a different elevator. Someone (in desperation to improve customer service quality?) had made a small sign reading “Reception” and pasted it inside the elevator near the buttons. The little sign is paper, handmade and peeling.

The handwritten sign looks pathetic amid such elegant steel and glass, but at least in one elevator someone did something – and that’s better than doing nothing at all to improve customer service quality.

Key Learning Points

Awkward service situations can persist for days, months, even years, with no one looking carefully to improve them and raise customer service quality. Is this happening at your company or organization? If you look closely, can you find a “small thing” that could be done better to raise customer service quality? Will you make that change right now or will you allow another day, month or year of customer inconvenience to pass?

Action Steps

I always recommend improvements when I see the opportunity and the need. You can do this, too. But remember, action counts. Just talking about it doesn’t count for much in regard to customer service quality.

PS: One week after I sent this suggestion to the airport, new elevator signage was installed. Bravo Dubai Airport!

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