Different Strokes for Different Customer Service Folks a Relationship Barrier?

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I recently participated in a LinkedIn conversation that was started by a customer of American Airlines who was disgruntled by a perceived lack of quality phone support. I commented that my experience with American on the phone was great – quality reps and great service. I pointed out that I do have elite status and therefore call their ‘gold’ number which is answered almost immediately by a knowlegable rep. The reply to the my comment in the conversation was instructive: ‘Well I guess you have to be a better customer to receive decent service’.

This comment got me thinking. If a brand is trying to attract loyal customers, how are they going to do that if customer service to customers who have not reached that point is less than ‘good’. The natural common sense response to perceived ‘bad’ or even ‘mediocre’ service is to seek out an alternate vendor therfore never reaching the level of loyalty rewarded by great service.

If a business entity is trying to build brand loyalty, it must then identify a base line of customer service that must be offered to even infrequent customers in order to avoid this gap that will prevent such customers from reaching the level of relationship that moves service from ‘good’ to ‘great’. The leap from mediocre to great is likely not going to happen. There is too much incentive for the customer to bounce to another vendor or in this case another carrier!

I’d love to hear your comments. What has been your experience with a brands with whom you have not reached ‘elite’ status. Is service at a level that encourages you to build loyalty or has it been so mediocre that you have decided to look elsewhere?

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