I am back from ISE 2017 and had an amazing experience. I learned so much and will have plenty to write about, and will be following up on over the coming months. I had two experiences with customer services, and the differences were so vast, I want to write about them. I am a firm believer that there is no substitute for customer service.
The first experience was a negative one. On my flight from Boston to Dublin, on Aer Lingus, I lost my glasses. I am pretty sure that I took them off, put them in my case and then stuck them in the seat back. I thought I had put them in my backpack. I realized this mistake when I was at the gate before my flight from Dublin to Amsterdam, with only 30 minutes before boarding. I walked up to the gate attendant, explained the situation and asked what could be done. Stunningly, he told me that I should walk back to the gate that my flight arrived at, and with any luck the glasses would be there, or the plane may still be there. I asked if he could call that gate if I provided him with my flight number. No, was the answer. He could not do that. The walk back to that gate was easily 15 minutes one way, and frankly, I am not sure I could find my way back. You see, all the signage in the airport is designed to take you to departing gates, not arrivals.
Scott Tiner, in the last picture with his favorite glasses.
The next morning in the hotel I was little more clear headed. I contacted my travel agent, who gave me a phone number for Aer Lingus lost and found at the Dublin airport. I could not get the number to work. I went downstairs and asked the concierge. He too, could not get the phone number to work. I’m still not sure why I could not reach that number, but my guess is that it was not connected.
I tried contacting Aer Lingus through Twitter. I was told that the only option for me was to check in lost and found back at the airport. I continued to try and poke at them a little through Twitter to see, if at least, they could confirm if my glasses had been found. No, was the consistent answer.
Finally, I arrived back at the Dublin airport, from Amsterdam. Immediately after leaving my plane, I found an Aer Lingus desk. I explained the situation. I was told that the lost and found is at the front desk, outside of security. With a 1 1/2 hour layover, they wanted me to leave security, look for my glasses and came back through. I was tempted to do this, but wondered if it would be worthwhile, since I was not sure they even had found my glasses. So I asked them to call the desk and see if they could identify my glasses, and then I would go get them. The response, “No, we don’t have time for that.”
Through repeated attempts, I could not get a customer service representative to even LOOK and see if my glasses were found. I fully realize that losing my glasses was completely my fault. However, to keep a customer happy, Aer Lingus could have invested ten minutes into determining whether my glasses had been delivered to lost and found.
Now, for the good experience. I stayed at the Amsterdam Marriott. When I first arrived, I was completely exhausted and against my better judgement decided to take a mid-day “nap.” Yes, I know, not the best way to beat jet lag. During this nap, I would hear drilling noises every 15-20 minutes. Sometimes it was louder than others. I was worried that it was some type of alarm that would continue through the night. So, I made a call to the front desk. The person who answered asked me to hold for a moment so they could look into it. They came back shortly and explained that there was construction in the hotel and it continued until 6 p.m. They apologized for it disturbing me and offered me a pass to the executive lounge if I wanted to work in peace and quiet.
Later that afternoon, room service showed up at my room with a very nice handwritten note and a plate of chocolates. The note explained that the hotel was sorry for the inconvenience that construction had caused me. While the noise was an inconvenience, I also understood that the hotel needed to renovate on occasion. Additionally, they went out of their way to make up for that inconvenience.
What does this have to do with AV? Well, it certainly has to do with business. We all serve customers and we all have serious competition. The smallest factors matter. If you, like Aer Lingus, do nothing to make your customers happy, they will find someone who does. However, if, like the Amsterdam Marriott, you make concessions, and keep your customers happy they will keep coming back. I don’t know if I will get back to ISE in future years. If so, I don’t plan on flying Aer Lingus, but I will be staying at the Marriott.