There are a few of thing that really irk me beyond sanity when it comes to customer service. What makes it so frustrating is they are simple to correct and just unnecessary actions of the employees. The first one is lazy makes me crazy!
As a customer, I am pretty reasonable and easy going (Well, I am in life too). You will not find someone more empathetic to service employees because I spent so many years there myself. I know days are tough when people come to you one after another. With all that said, I cannot tolerate laziness. I have an expectation if your name tag has the company’s logo on it, then you should be able to answer basic questions about your organization, your immediate physical location, and even if you don’t know, just be pleasant while you, not me, find out.
Poor Carnival Cruise Lines, they can’t seem to get a break lately with dramatic and scary technical problems on their ships, and even worse they seem to handle service recovery just so poorly. Normally, I would not pick on them because it doesn’t seem fair to kick a man when he’s down, but this experience illustrates best my point about laziness.
In April, my family boarded the Carnival Legend for its first Mediterranean voyage of the summer season. One thing I enjoy about cruising is a ship’s library and the ability to borrow books. I am not an e-reader kind of girl, so the ability to check out a hardback book is a nice amenity.
Disembarkation day I went to the library to get a book. The books were locked up, and there was a sign that said the library would open at 7:30pm for an hour. This wasn’t unexpected, as almost all cruise lines control the inventory to avoid books walking off, so I made a mental note to return later.
I went back around 8:00pm, but the bookcases were still locked. Hmmm?
There is one Carnival crew member in the library, and she is the internet manager according to her name tag. It’s not unusual for the passenger internet computer stations to be in or near the library. The total space was probably no bigger than a 20 feet X 20 feet area (For my metric audience, it's about 7 meters x 7 meters).
I waited while she helped other passengers and when it was my turned I asked, “When does the library open?” She answered, “I don’t know.” In my head I thought, “But you are in the library, how could you not know?!” She clearly had no interest in finding out either, but she told me to check my daily events schedule that should be in my room. In my room?! She was very short, and I have rarely had someone so non-verbally say to me, “That’s not my job.”
The Gurus’ Solution
This is such an easy solution, which annoys me all the more. She should have had a schedule of events with her for any such basic questions, and apologize the library was not open when the sign said it would. As a customer I don’t care if it was her job or not. If you are standing in front of the library books, you need to know when the library will be open. It’s not rocket science.
If she was a proactive type of employee, she would verify the hours on the sign and work with the cruise director team to ensure it was always correct. This would take literally minutes of her time, and the funny thing is it would save her a world of heartache from whiny passengers. (Not that I am ever whiny. ;))
The Larger Organization Solution
For organizations, I propose you take every customer service position and think through what are the top 10 questions that employees in that role could get related to the company, their physical location, and other general information. Some of the top questions will always be where are the restrooms, and what are the hours of operation?
If you can train people to these answers, then you will proactively solve 50% of your customer challenges. Employees will also feel more confident, which leads to higher job satisfaction. The trick to train them is as an organization you must know the definitive answers to those common questions. Sometimes that is not as easy as it sounds.
Life is a Carnival
Carnival just installed a new CEO, and I hope they are able to turn around their sinking ship to ensure passenger safety and create enjoyable service experiences. If you are a regular reader of the blog, then you know I love cruising, so I am sure I will give Carnival another opportunity to wow me someday soon.
Until then, I wish you safe and fun summer travels!