It’s Carnival time in Trinidad and Tobago (T&T). For those folks reading this column and hearing about this for the first time, our Carnival celebration is the crown jewel of all carnivals across the world. It is a massive street parade powered by energetic music, a spectacle of revelry, costuming, gaiety, masquerade and most of all, a unique show of multicultural unity. It is a time when revellers and visitors from all over the world descend on our twinned Caribbean islands (T&T), for sun and fun over two months. If you’re thinking that this sounds like the perfect mix for the experience lover and culture enthusiast, you would be right!!
Carnival time is one of the perfect opportunities for T&T to shine and to impress the world as a must-visit, tourist destination. Incidentally, let’s not forget that because Carnival in T&T is an internationally renowned celebration, the world really is watching. Enthusiasts are peeled to social media streaming of the events, then there’s the never ending stream of shared photos and the non-stop human commentary between friends, relatives and colleagues on a moment to moment basis. It’s all pretty exhilarating.
Carnival lovers all come for one thing….“the entertainment experience” and they are never disappointed, because Carnival automatically turns Trinidad and Tobago into a living “experience economy.”
When customer experience professionals speak about the experience economy, we mean that customers want “memorable experiences,” at all points along the service delivery journey and are prepared to pay premium rate for the value added.
If there’s one time when Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) has to rise above the noise of poor service, it’s at Carnival time, when our customer experience etiquette and service delivery repertoire are on show for the world to see. Lest we forget, our visitors come for the revelry and cultural immersion, but are ever expectant of service that is “world class”, why? Because that’s where their appetite is pegged.
So, there’s another side to this coin. Whilst experience lovers expect the perfect mix, there’s the business end, where small, medium and larger businesses, have to deliver the perfect mix, but this time, on the supply chain side. Someone has to provide the goods and services for consumption, yes?
This is a great time for your business to “tell it’s customer experience story.” What do you want the world to know about your business? That it’s warm and friendly, thoughtful about being ready to serve, has well trained staff, keeps promises, responds quickly to customers’ enquiries, does not drop the ball? What memorable stories do you want to headline Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, so that when a prospective customer googles your business, great testimonies lead that customer to your door?
Customer Service Tips for Service Providers at Carnival Time
World class service delivery means keeping promises, being time sensitive and being “on time.”
As your business prepares to impress every customer, you don’t want to be known for being sloppy with time and promise keeping. Make it easy for frontline staff to have the confidence to say; “ yes Sir | Ma’am, your parcel will be ready at 2:00pm” (not 2ish), or ” we promise that our driver will be there to collect you by 10:30am.” Frontline may make the promise, but they rely on support to keep the promise. So make sure that the promise point and the execution point, are joint and not separate.
Another thing, make it easy for the customer to change his or her mind without negative consequences.
So, what should happen if a customer changes his or her mind, mid way through a transaction, after the bulk of the transaction has been completed? An absolutely trouble free reboot of the transaction process. The shift should be the most natural activity in the world and the customer must feel no discomfort about changing his or her mind, but should experience simplicity in closing the transaction and beginning anew. Under no circumstances should the customer feel anything but that “nothing is too much trouble” for him or her.
Carnival Season – A Time for Service Providers to have Heightened Awareness, Patience and Grace
A word of advice here, your high customer contact positions should only be occupied by “customer care’ staff who have mastered the art of controlling their emotions and who exude goodwill under the most challenging of customer situations. In other words, these customer care personnel should remain unruffled through situations that require complete restarts of transactions, a customer deciding not to go through with the transaction, when 99% of the transaction had been completed, lengthy customer indecision, customer uncertainty and the discovery of insufficient funds.
Your customer facing staff should manage these occurrences with grace and breeze through with no change in facial expression, no manicou stares and no micro gestures that demonstrate displeasure.
Carnival time is a crucible test. It’s a time of revelry, “high spirits,” quick tempers, unreasonable demands and I’m speaking only about the customer here. On the service delivery end, it is a time for level headedness, a time for grace and good natured attitudes to prevail, under intense pressure. Remember that your business has to own its responsibility to work with the customer’s choice, not the other way around. The customer does not have to go along with the choices served by your business. Your service oriented neighbour, three feet away, will fill in nicely.
We will be tested deeply, at Carnival time, by our foreign visitors, on our level of service excellence at our points of entry and at social services contact points. We need to pay attention to their needs, preserve their dignity when we interact and meet them “where they are.” Remember that listening is a skill, but paying attention is a choice.
In 2020, opportunities abound to capture glory for T&T’s customer experience brand. All we have to do is orchestrate service excellence so well that our approval ratings go through the roof.
Let’s not fail the tests!!