Customer Service: Delight or Dilemma?

October 22nd, 2009 by Rob Berman Leave a reply »

Recently, I was taking the commuter train called PATCO (click for a short video) into Philadelphia from Southern New Jersey.  I was perplexed by the dichotomy of my ticket purchase experience.

Does Past Performance Dictate Future Experience?

“Freedom” Cards or commuter cards that can be “recharged” with more money for rides were available for purchase with credit cards. However, a one way or round trip purchase of a “paper” ticket required cash.  How likely was I to have $5.40 exact change or even something close to it?

I used to commute regularly on this train line in the past when I lived in the Philadelphia area.  In the intervening years I have used the train a handful of times.  Years ago there were change machines in the station.  Unfortunately, I just found out that those machines are long gone.

Personal Service, How Intriguing

As I struggled to make the machine accept my $5 bill I was amazed to have a railroad employee offer to help.  He indicated he had other $5 bills he could trade with me to insert in the machine.

Even more intriguing, he gently took the offending bill smoothed it and inserted in into the machine, which gobbled it up.

Of course, the bill fiasco caused me to miss the train resulting in a 20-minute wait for the next one.  Yet, I pleasantly sat on the platform marveling at the customer service.

More Reflection Needed

Upon more reflection, I realized the customer service while excellent, was unnecessary.

If the train authority simply had:

1)      change machines or

2)      credit card acceptance for all purchases

the customer experience would have been totally different.

In this day and age where many companies speak about and even tout their “customer experience” why was I exhilarated and frustrated over the same “customer experience”?

The Takeaway

Employees responsible for service need to “test” their products and services before unleashing them on the rest of us unsuspecting consumers.

What are your thoughts?

1)      Have you experienced similar paradoxes?

2)      How do you delight your customers in each transaction?

3)      How do we get businesses to better understand and appreciate the impressions they leave customers and   potential customers?

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