Think you have good service?

[Cache – #14]

Recently I was asked whether a certain brand name was good or not.  My answer was that in many cases, it is impossible to tell without experiencing the brand.

Take Celebrity, the cruise line.  Is Celebrity a good name or not?  Well, if they make you feel like a Celebrity, it’s a good – maybe even great – name.  But if they don’t, it’s not just bad, it’s horrific – because the word “celebrity” sets a very high bar.

I took a Caribbean cruise on Celebrity Solstice (with 23 of my closest family members) last week, and it turns out that Celebrity is a great name indeed.  I can’t count the number of times I heard someone say how nice everything was:  the ship (two years old, 1,000 feet long and 16 stories high), the food (90,000 meals served over seven days…yes, ninety thousand) and the staff (1,250 of them) in particular.  The experience definitely made you feel like a celebrity.



celebrity solstice

Perhaps you’ve heard of a 10-foot rule, or a 6-foot rule:  it means that staff members are trained to greet you if they come within a certain number of feet from you.  I have seen this rule in action at a few brands in the past, but never, ever with anything close to the consistency, enthusiasm and authenticity of Celebrity.

In other words, not only do Celebrity crew members ask how you’re doing and/or wish you good morning/afternoon/evening – always with a smile – they actually mean it.  Which, especially coming from Toronto, where service sucks, and from Canada, where it sucks only slightly less on the whole, is quite a shock to the system.

If you are responsible for customer service at your organization – I don’t care if you’re from Four Seasons, or Ritz Carlton, or Nordstrom or wherever, and you think you have nothing to learn – you owe it to yourself and your company to take a Celebrity cruise (rough, I know) and experience perhaps the most highly-trained and dedicated customer service staff you have ever seen.

The crew members on a cruise ship like Celebrity Solstice are not normal employees.  I asked around and learned they are typically employed for contracts ranging from seven months to one year in length, and get almost zero time off in that period.  No vacation time.  Just a few hours off here and there – not necessarily a full day even!

Imagine for a moment how happy your employees would be if they basically worked every day for seven months or a year.  And, by the way, they did not see their significant others or kids during that time.

In the Caribbean – versus the Mediterranean for example – the travel distances are comparatively long.  Thus the ship spends alot of time at sea (when all passengers are gorging on the ship’s services) instead of alot of time in port (when most passengers are not on the ship).  The demands on crew are therefore even greater.

Yet somehow, Celebrity crew manage to be happy in their jobs.  From the perspective of a Canadian from the big city, they are the true stars.


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