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.
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.
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).