A Golden Opportunity…Customer Service

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February 19, 2011

Golden Egg

(Photo Caption: The Golden Egg)

As we have traveled the country the last 4 years we have noticed that Customer Service does not seem to be one of the top priorities when it comes to RVs…this ranges from the campgrounds/resorts, to the service centers, to the restaurants, and (most of all) fuel stations.  Rather than post a long list of the horrible (yes, that really is the correct word) experiences that we’ve had along the way, I wanted to point out that the news that customer service is not a priority is a Golden Opportunity for many RV related businesses out there.

Why do I say it is a golden opportunity?  Well, the more we in the RV community are connected, the more we will share our stories (good and bad).  Already you can find web sites where people blog about their favorite locations and experiences, where customers can leave reviews, where RVers can exchange stories, and where we can form groups that will make decisions on where to go based on what we’ve heard.  Think about it, an RVer can share a positive experience with thousands of other RVers with almost no effort at all.  Just look at the excellent stories that appear in this blog about specific locations that are willing to put forth a little extra effort to make the customer’s experience pleasurable.

The Sandias

The Sandias from the KOA

I do want to share one example of exceptional customer service that I experienced at a campground in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  We initially chose the Albuquerque Central KOA because of its location (it is right in town—and we like that convenience).  However, we will not continue to make that choice if we are not treated well.  In this instance, we now stay at this KOA specifically because of the service we receive.  The manager (this is a corporate KOA) goes out of his way to treat the customers more like guests.

On our last visit, during the off-season, he did a number of little things that ensured that our stay exceeded our expectations.  He told us that he appreciates our business and wants us to continue to stay here when we are in town.  It is always surprising when you are at a campground and the management chooses to follow strict procedures that often do not seem to make sense, even when it goes against the expectations of the customer.  It is as if the arbitrary rules that were created by the very management who says that they cannot do anything because “it is policy” have become more important than the customer’s experience.


Telling a Few Friends

There are two ways to view customers in the RV/camping world.  One is to assume that these people are transient and may never come back to your business again.  Since there is a lower chance for repeat business, what difference does it make if they are happy or satisfied.  The thing to remember about this is that even though they may not be back, how many thousands of people can they tell about their experience?

The other way to look at the situation is that these customers are so mobile, they could be back at any time.  When they come back, do you want them to be repeat customers?  And, as above, they are going to tell thousands of people about their experience (how many people just heard about the great service at the KOA in Albuquerque?).  This is the Golden Opportunity…ensuring that every customer becomes an advocate for your business.



And, while this is great for the people with the businesses, why is it important to the rest of us?  It is important because we need to make sure the managers/owners of these businesses know when we are happy with the service/product and when we are not.  And, we need to remind them now and then that we’re going to tell a few of our friends (you know, nothing big, just a few thousand).

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  1. Jenna Lindquist

    This is so pertinent to our recent experience in San Francisco. We just experienced the worst customer service from Candlestick RV staff.
    We had been having a lovely trip up the coast of California. I inquired about space at Candlestick, for the next night from our camp in Monterey (which you can't even do without giving them CC# -on their "Request for Reservation" page and clicking on a 7-day cancellation policy) They did not respond until 3PM ( by email) the day of the requested reservation! By then we were already camped at the wonderful SF RV Park in Pacifica, and off to see our daughter in SF. The next morning looking at email, discovered their late response assigning us a reservation, for which they charged us for the res. we never knew we had. I have written them, called them. They refused to refund it, claiming 7-day cancellation policy! I'm reporting them to the the BBB and advising everyone to check the reviews on YELP. Those reviews also say POOR to Non-existent customer service.Do NOT STAY HERE!

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  3. Duane

    When it comes to customer service it has gone down hill almost every where you go. Count the number of places where you purchase goods or services that you have not been thanked for your patronage. The grocery store, fast food(if you eat there), convienence store….. Is it a lack of manners or just a lack of understanding of who is the customer?

  4. Hoby

    Mike, I agree with you; and that was the reason I thought it would be good to post this. I think the good news about campgrounds is that many of the owners and managers actually like people, and campers, so they might be a bit better than the average business.

  5. I am surprised at how many establishments still haven’t figured out customer service, especially when so many consumers can publish their tales of poor service to thousands of readers. It is refreshing to hear about (not to mention experience) good customer service – it seems to be a lost art.

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  7. Hoby

    Bob and Larry,

    The good news is that it seems for every bad experience, someone can also share an excellent experience; and, most of our experiences fall into that huge range in the middle. I do hope that the managers/owners of the campgrounds in these examples are told about these posts, and they get to see just as many positive posts.

  8. larry siebrands

    I stayed at Magnolia RV Park Resort in Vicksburg, Mississippi, in middle February. It’s a Good Sam recommended park. In the evening, we had no water. The next morning, I left the RV to report the problem. The RV was surrounded by water; water was everywhere [photo attached]. Slopping to the Park Office, I met a man on a golft cart, and I told him of my no water problem. He acted like the chief maintance man or more. He was extremely rude to me, blamed the park campers for causing a main water line problem that was going to cost him thousands, swore violently, and drove away leaving me mid-sentence. Water main breaks are problems that can’t be avoided. Personally, I think the Park should have offered every camper a financial discount for time and trouble. But most importantly, to have a Park staff member treat a paying camper with such disrespect is shocking.

  9. Bob

    Well talking about good and bad experiances. I just got charged a 20% cancelation fee from Two Rivers Campground in Nashville for caneling a reservation 3 months in advance because they could not provide 50amp service during the time we wanted to stay. that is ridiculous and it will not be forgotten and it will be shared. I will be staying at the KOA right next door with 50amp service.

  10. Hoby

    Ron, you make an excellent point. As long as you correct the situation before the customer leaves, you can always change the perception. The problem is that once the customer leaves, that customer may never give that business another opportunity to do better.

  11. Ron

    The funny thing about customer service is that, unlike first impressions, you always have the opportunity positively impress, like most of the KOA’s we have stayed at and others that have positively impressed us. We do return to the places where we feel welcome and comfortable.
    One place that we go out of our way to revisit is the Jackson Rancheria Casino RV Park, Jackson, CA. This is one of the top rated RV parks in the nation and for many good reasons. There is space between the level, paved sites. Friendly, helpful people and excellent facilities.