Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Consumer Loyalty Can Be a Powerful Tool in Marketplace

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Consumer Loyalty Can Be a Powerful Tool in Marketplace

Article excerpt

What kind of service do customers expect from merchants?

Last month we looked at the frustration many customers experience working their way through the maze of automated telephone answering systems.

As bad as that can be, it can be even worse when you go face to face with salespeople and customer service representatives. At least you're at home while waiting for someone to answer the phone.

What most annoys consumers is being ignored, said Joey Faucette, founder and chief executive of Listen to Life, which advises companies on customer service, and author of "Work Positive in a Negative World."

"As a consumer, I want to be recognized, that I'm there, that I'm one of the people who are keeping the lights on for the company," Faucette said by phone. "Today, consumers are saying to businesses, 'See us, hear us, listen to us.' "

It's nothing big -- "I'm not expecting you to remember my dog's name" -- but showing that you care, that the customer exists, can make all the difference in the world how the consumer views the merchant, he said.

Faucette, who travels frequently from his Danville, Va., office, tells the story of a recent business trip involving a hotel, and airline and weather-related delays.

After his flight was canceled, he contacted the hotel he had stayed at the previous night -- a Marriott -- and it went out of its way to recognize and help him.

He was greeted by name, received empathy for his situation and had a van sent to the airport to bring him back to the hotel, he said. It even provided him with a complimentary glass of wine.

The unnamed airline, by comparison, canceled several flights without notice and did nothing to help the passenger -- a paying customer -- stranded at the airport.

"What can you do to help me," Faucette asked. "Nothing," he was told. "It's weather related."

When the airline booked his flight for the next day, it was at its convenience, not his, he said.

"My assigned seat was on the last row -- the loudest -- and next to the lavatory," he said. "Had they simply asked about my flight or seating preference, the engines would have seemed quieter and the lavatory smelled better."

The fallout: He says he will avoid booking this airline ever again, "even if it means paying more," but will choose Marriott properties whenever available. …

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