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Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Cost of Lowering the Bar

We know satisfied customers leave. That the best way to keep a customer is to continuously delight them by exceeding their increasing service expectations in each interaction.

But rather than improving, I see companies using the current economic environment as an excuse to reduce the service quality in day-to-day interactions. It poses a danger to their bases of loyal customers and their brands.

In two months, I’ve arrived to an unmade room at a Fairmont, a Marriott, and the Flamingo Las Vegas. Because I’m a complainer, each hotel lost revenue in service recovery, but the greater loss comes from the reduction what they can expect in my lifetime value as a customer. They’re gambling that the reductions in service quality will go unnoticed or unpunished because their peers are doing the same. For the Harrah’s property in particular, they should know better.

Unfortunately for them, I also stayed at a Hyatt Place, a Hampton Inn, and a Kimpton hotel, all of which provided experiences completely in line with my expectations. Finding superior interactions at a lesser price means a lost wager for the three decreasing service at a time when my dollars are harder to come by for both of us.

These experiences are not unique in B2C services. I deal with B2B services and see the same corner cutting on critical service elements, even when companies know that dispassionate decision makers are measuring their performance on every transaction.

This economy will not last forever. When it ends, the choices we made to retain, reduce or improve service levels will be justly rewarded as we deserve.

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