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Who are our customers?

Returning from another trip abroad I was standing by the bus stop at the airport, as instructed, waiting to be picked up by the bus to take me back to the car park where I had left my car for the past three days. I was shortly joined by several families who had no doubt received exactly the same information as me.

It was quite chilly and the wait was a little longer than I had expected but eventually the mini bus bearing the right corporate logo turned up. I showed the driver my ticket and he let me onto the bus with my carry-on luggage. As the father of the family behind me stepped forward to join me he was stopped by the driver telling him he could not bring his luggage onto the bus and demanded to see the gentleman’s ticket. The man obliged and passed a ticket similar to mine to the driver. This was immediately thrust back from whence it came with the gruff statement ‘you don’t want this bus your one will be along in a minute’.

When the aggrieved father started to point out that the logo on the bus was the same as the one on the ticket the driver said ‘I know, but this is #### what you want is ####.com’. A distinction that neither I, nor any of the other people being left behind in the cold had made, nor one that the lady on the phone had made clear to any of us.

Once we were on our way, just the driver and me in the mini bus, which could easily sit a dozen people, the driver radioed in to say he was returning with one passenger – the one he was told to pick up. From that point I was treated well, my name was used and was shown good attentive service.

On the way back to get my car, I kept thinking about those back at the bus stop. I appreciate that our cars will be in different car parks and that the mini bus that picked me up will not be going their way, but the name of the car park company is the same. As a customer, should they not expect good service from any part of the business that they are paying good money to use? I am not saying that the driver should have picked them up, but I am sure there are better ways of communicating with people (who are not “my” customer) with respect so that they are not immediately alienated.

I will continue to use the company as it is convenient for me; I am not so sure that those left behind will be doing the same, even though the poor service was not provided by the part of the business that they were paying. In the current climate we are all looking for customers, we know that we must provide exceptional service to existing customers if we want return business. Also, we need to be on the lookout for future clients; by definition these will come from people who currently do not do business with us. Therefore, surely we should provide exceptional service to those who are not currently our customers but who have the potential to be, otherwise why would they use our services in the future? In short everyone we come into contact with, is the potential life blood of our company, treat them with respect, help them the best way you can and smile :)

There is another way, see my next blog about the taxi driver from Casablanca.