Feature Article - April 2002
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The Art of Customer Service

What goes around comes around when you give customer relations more than lip service

By Elisa Kronish

In a slow economy

When the economy is pumping along briskly, it may seem easier to provide excellent customer service. But customer expectations don't depend on the economy.

"If a customer continues to buy my product or service, then I'm going to have to have the same amount of customer service," Trotter says. He warns that if you've eliminated jobs, the quality of your service can go down, generating more complaints.

Your visitors may have less money to spend on free time, though, and it may be significant that they're spending it with you.

"When people are struggling with meeting their financial obligations and are concerned about job security, their monetary situation becomes more precious," Stewart says. It's important to be flexible about revising practices to meet customers' changing needs.

During the past few months, Bally Total Fitness has revamped its training module for new hires to help ensure quality customer service. The Ritz-Carlton has noticed that business travelers are staying for shorter periods of time, so staff has responded to this faster pace with increasingly efficient check-in.

No matter what the economic climate, though, your facility should provide a warm atmosphere for guests. Welcome them to your facility like you'd welcome them to your home. And, Nasser says, "Every time you face a customer, strive for 150 percent. You have nothing to lose."

Respond in Seven Steps

Lori Regele, customer service coordinator for KOA Campgrounds
offers this checklist for responding to customer complaints, which can
be applied to any means of communication:


Thank the customer, explain why you appreciate the complaint and apologize.


Let the customer know what you've done to remedy the situation.


Admit the customer is right—even if they're not.


Personalize your reply (that is, no form letters).


Be simple but specific.


Exceed the customer's expectations— try to wow every customer.


Check customer satisfaction—follow up with both the staff and the customer.