Customer Service Pays Off

Published April 23, 2010   permalink

In my last post I talked about the exceptional I receive as a Continental customer. Now let's talk about how this commitment to service pays off - in dollars.

This coming Sunday I'll be heading back to New Delhi, where I work with 2020Social, an Indian social media spin-off from parent PR Agency 2020Media. As the company handles travel, I generally receive airline tickets rather than booking them myself. I have a standing request for Continental.

When I received my tickets this week, I noticed that they had been booked on American Airlines, a competent carrier by any standard. I inquired as to why AA tickets had been purchased instead of CO and was told that the tickets were less costly. Hmmm.

I spend a lot of time in India, talking about the importance of customer service. Now, here I was as a customer, looking at the obvious question: "Just how much is Continental's service worth to me?

Here's what I did: I requested that the original tickets be cancelled ($240 in penalties) and the Continental tickets be purchased instead ($160 more expensive.) As a Continental Elite customer, it's worth it to me to remain loyal to the airline that has consistently taken care of me. So, I'm now paying $400 out of my own pocket (of which more than half is going to American Airlines despite the fact that the original tickets were
refundable) to fly Continental to India.

Why would I do this? There is actually a simple answer: As a business consultant, I get paid to counsel my clients on the "business benefits arising out of applicable technologies for the implementation of social media solutions that drive favorable conversations." That's not really what I say, but I do hear a lot of people actually say that.

All of that techno-speak aside what it comes down to it this: If I'm unwilling to stand up -- even at cost -- to economically support my preferred business service providers then how can I possibly stand in front of those same clients and collect a check when telling them how important customer service is? See what I mean? It was actually an easy choice. BTW, Continental Airlines is not a client of mine -- I just appreciate them.

The next time you're faced with a cost-based purchase choice, think twice about choosing the cheapest option purely because it's the cheapest. Sure, there are economic realities, but there are also reasonable solutions. As social media business consultants, it's our job, after all, to walk the talk.

Reader's Comments

I must say I completely agree. Working in higher education (sometimes compared to steering the Queen Mary)there is constant pressure to choose a vendor or consultant that is the cheapest. Our department recently stood our ground when we chose a company to run our AdWords campaigns. We chose based on quality & the fact that they work directly with the company that provides our CRM tool.

By bbyron

An awesome example of integrity and practicing what you preach. The world - not to mention this industry - is full of hypocrisy and double speak. It’s refreshing to see someone not only speak as an example, but act as an example by sticking to personal principles and voting with your wallet. *applause*

By Nate Bagley

Just got your book and have read 4 chapters - going back now to do and document the exercises. In looking for a download for the forms I happily stumbled across your blog. This particular blog post reminds me of all the times I’ve had to do things over after “saving money” by choosing a “next best but cheaper” solution,

By Tom Miles

Hey there,

You made some interesting points in your post here. Funny to hear that you LOVE Continental Airlines so much that you would spend an extra $400 bucks just to fly with them.

Now that’s loyalty! lol

By LGN Prosperity