“My whole holiday was destroyed!”, this was the summary she gave me on her holiday experience. What happened? I asked.
Esi had been saving for years for a holiday on her 40th birthday, however, things didn’t go as expected. She was treated poorly during her check in formalities at the airport and was unduly delayed.
During the rush to the aircraft, she slipped on a wet surface and was badly hurt. On the flight, the special meal she requested for was not available because there was a ‘mixup’ and her meal had been given to another passenger.
When she arrived at her destination, she was exhausted, hungry, and unhappy!
She went on to narrate other service challenges experienced at the hotel and issues with her bank card when she tried to process payments with it. The frustrations behind the summary above, were unfortunately genuine.
Listening to her made me wonder whether her experience could have been better if she knew her basic rights as a customer. Very often, we talk about customer service from the organisation’s perspective, but rarely do we highlight the rights customers have and empower them to demand same.
To be treated like a king, you need to understand the kind of treatment a king deserves. Now let’s re-orientate ourselves on the rules of our kingship as customers.
As a customer, you have a right to safety. When consuming a service, your safety within the premises where the service is offered is your right. Service providers need to take steps to ensure their customers are always kept safe within their premises.
The accident Esi experienced could have been avoided if the service provider had taken steps to place a warning sign in the wet areas. Regular inspection of the environment, fixing of broken fixtures and placing of appropriate warning signs in areas where there are structural issues must be done.
And for a customer, you have the right to speak up should you feel unsafe.
Service providers need to be prepared to give information; it is your right as a customer to demand information to aid in your decision-making process. Look out for information on the cost of the service - value additions if available - and any other information that you believe is important to you as a customer.
Read the fine prints (which very few people do!) and go back for clarity if not sure.
Information and education work very closely together. It is your right as a customer to be educated on the product or service you purchase.
This can be done through various mediums, but it must be done, as this helps you to understand the service or product for you to maximize its full use and benefits.
When paying for goods or services - where there are multiple options - as a customer, you have the right to choose. This right should only be exercised after you have gone through the available product information and are happy to proceed with one of the available options. Esi should have exercised her right as a customer because she made a choice after considering her options, however, her service provider failed to provide the correct meal during the flight.
What kept running through mind when Esi was giving me feedback on her trip was whether there were avenues available for where to safely seek redress. As a customer, it is your right to be heard, and this must be done through the proper channels made available for customer complaints.
Exercising your right does not only ensure you get compensated, but it also helps the service provider to improve
upon their services.
Esi had paid for and selected a special meal service, but the airline failed to deliver that service. She had a right to demand a correction of this.
The service provider could have chosen other acceptable options to compensate Esi if they were unable to provide the service she paid for.
The underlying information is that, as a customer you have a right to demand correction if the service or product falls short of the terms you signed up for.
Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. As a customer, you therefore have the right to be respected and treated in a fair and courteous manner. Esi’s holiday issues started right from the check-in counter when she received that bad treatment from the front desk manager.
What happened to Esi when she fell? Did she get any help? Did someone apologize to her? Did they hold the gate for her
or offer to carry her bags? Or did they just point and laugh?
Had it been the latter, would Esi ever use that service provider or feel comfortable traveling through the same location again?
As one who is paying for the service, do not compromise on being treated respectfully every time. Every customer engagement should be built on respect among all parties.
Perhaps Esi’s whole travel experience would have been much better if she had been aware of her rights and taken steps to enforce them.
As consumers, it is in our interest to understand what our rights are and demand them from our service providers. In this customer service month, let’s not consume ignorantly, let’s arm ourselves with what we need to know to make informed decisions and even help improve service delivery from our providers. Remember, it is your right to demand excellence!
Ama Amissah Wujangi
Brand and Marketing Manager,