3 Tools to Keep Customers’ Heads From Exploding: A Tale From a Bus Ride

About once a week I take a “luxury coach” (that’s a bus to you and me) back and forth to Manhattan. One of the reasons I take the bus rather than the train is that it offers Wi-Fi….or it claims to. From time to time, however, I get on and no Wi-Fi.

As you can imagine, this can be challenging. It is not, however, insurmountable.

What can send me around the bend is the attitude of the attendant toward my request that an attempt be made to get the Wi-Fi up and running. Sometimes the attendant is lovely. Sometimes, as below, there is an epic fail.

Based on my experience of last week, here are 3 tools you can use to avoid having customer’s heads explode when things don’t go as planned:

Let the Customer Know Steps are Being Taken to Resolve the Issue: In this situation, unless passengers are told an attempt has been made to reboot the Wi-Fi there is no way to know the request has not gone in one ear and out the other. In the moment, I was not told. Keeping customers informed goes a long way toward them keeping their cool.

(At Least Pretend to) Care:  With zero information (and an hour and a half into the ride) I pointed out to this young woman that there was still no Wi-Fi. Her response? “Well, I tried.” My raised eyebrows received a sigh and an eye roll, not to mention the following remark. “OK, well, I’ll try again when I’m done taking fares.” Hey, young lady, how about, “I’m so sorry it’s still not working. Let me try again before I take your money.” ? Saying sorry—and sounding sorry—goes a long way toward getting customers on your side.

Articulate What the Follow Up Will Be: As of the end of the trip, there was still no Wi-Fi and, to the best of my knowledge, that bus will have non-working Wi-Fi next week, next month and next year…. Coming back to tell me there was a plan for following through to correct the issue would have gone a long way toward my being willing to make a reservation on that bus again. Instead, I called the competitor. Having a system in place for following through is critical for building customer loyalty.

Frances Cole Jones