My wife, Sally, and I have just returned from our vacation in Boston. In a town not known for service, our experiences were generally terrific. Even American Airlines, which I alternate between loving and hating, treated us very well and handled a weather-related flight delay admirably.
The question I always like to ask is, "What can we learn?" Here are a few of my favorite take-aways.
Properly communicating and managing expectations is a great way to avoid upset customers. Our flight from San Diego to Boston was delayed an hour and a half because of thunderstorms in the Boston area. No one likes a delayed flight, but our American Airlines crew did a great job of giving us frequent updates. They were honest about the challenges, shared some of the options, and even let us de-plane to load up on snacks. We weren't happy about the delay, but Sally and I felt our crew was doing their best.
Being ready to serve your customers seems like common sense, but it doesn't happen often enough. We rented bikes for a day from a place called Urban Adventours. I had researched a few options online and made a reservation with them before our trip. The day before our reservation, we walked by one of the other options and were immediately glad we didn't choose them. They were disorganized, their shop looked like a mess, and the one customer standing in the store appeared to be confused and frustrated as he got checked out on his bike. By contrast, Urban Adventours was super organized and we got in, got checked out, and got on our way in just a few minutes.
It never hurts to build rapport with your customers. You get to know them better, they become more comfortable with you, and you all have a better time. The servers at many of the restaurants we visited in Boston took a moment to ask us if we'd been there before, where we were from, and other simple questions. It sparked conversation (everyone in Boston secretly wants to move to San Diego or knows someone who does) and created a more relaxing experience.
I've posted reviews of some of my favorite Boston places on Yelp!. Check it out if you plan to visit (or if you live there).