Do you know what good customer service is with respect to travel? Here's a story about a shower and a grill to help us illustrate
As I was taking a shower the other day, I remembered we recently changed the on valve. The valve was about 8 years old but had started to leak. We were thrilled with it when it was installed - previously the water pressure in the shower dipped every time a toilet was flushed or the sink was being used. But once installed, the shower water flow and pressure held constant. What great quality, we thought. But now I was having second thoughts as I watched the shower head dripping all night long.
I headed to the contractor supply store to get a replacement valve. They didn't have any in stock but suggested I call Kohler directly. And to my surprise, the Kohler representative immediately apologized and asked for my address so they could send me a replacement. No need for receipt? I asked. No, we know it came from us and it shouldn't fail so soon. Sure enough, the replacement came in a few days. Problem solved.
Last summer we finally purchased a new BBQ grill for our patio. We decided to buy a Weber grill - they were having a sale and we were tired of buying cheap sheet metal type grills every few years. The grill came with a complete set of instructions. But we were unable to get the thermometer to fit. Turns out the temperature probe was bent. We called Weber and in a few days a new thermometer arrived and we easily installed it. Again, no questions asked.
Later in the summer we called Weber again because we found the stainless steel grates were very difficult to clean. The Weber phone rep asked us to send a picture of our grates. Immediately, she sent us several videos on grilling and cleaning instructions and told us we'd be receiving new grates in the mail. We didn't even ask for them - they just came.
Travel customer service
So what does a shower valve and a BBQ grill have to do with Travel? Both are examples of great customer service. In travel, there's so many variables that sometimes its impossible for everything to go exactly as planned. No matter how many river cruises we've been on, for example there's always the unexpected: a lock that's stuck, low river water, an unexpected problem at an excursion, extreme heat or cold, some mechanical issue on the boat, etc. So the question is, what does the travel supplier do?
Do they behave like Kohler and Weber in the examples above? In our experience truly great suppliers like AmaWaterways do. But not all river cruise lines do however. Our experience is that Paul Gauguin and Oceania work very hard to be like Kohler and Weber grills. But not all ocean cruise lines do. And Tauck and Collette are fantastic when it comes to making things right. But not all land tours do.
Or do they behave in a manner that enrages customers. We'll leave those stories to another blog post, but believe me, I've heard my share of suppliers behaving badly.
How do you know about which suppliers to choose?
You ask. You ask friends and family. But mostly you ask a trusted travel agent or advisor. We can tell you from personal experience which suppliers have demonstrated consistently great customer service. We know which suppliers respond to customer issues promptly, fairly and without hassle. And we know the ones that don't.