I just got back from a cruise, and I have some thoughts on the industry and how it relates to customer service for small businesses. I know, I get a million comments on how I relate everything to my website business. I am guilty as charged, hey it is what I know.
But hear me out, a lot of things that make a cruise line successful (or not successful as the case may be) are what can make a small business succeed.
Cater to your every need: Cruise lines know that people come on a cruise for vacations and want to be pampered. From your room steward to the waiters, to the entertainment staff, everyone is friendly and at your beckon call. They insure you are happy and have a good time and yes, spend your money. This is the same with small businesses, especially if you are in a service industry. People want to know that you will take good care of them. The better the service, the more people remember and will refer you to their friends and business associates.
Job is important: One thing is sure, everyone on the cruise ship seems to appreciate their job. They take pride in every thing they do and you never get the sense that they feel like they are doing anything menial. You never get the sense that this is just a temporary job until they get something better. This is a career and they are happy to do these jobs. This makes everyone feel important and appreciate it. This is true with small businesses too. You never want to give off a sense that an account is too small for you. You need to appreciate every client/customer and every project should be important to you. No one wants to feel like they are unimportant. Treat everyone with respect and that their business is crucial. Remember, a lot of companies start off small and grow into successful entities.
A good value get you in the door: Cruises are typically very good deals, usually the cost of a cruise is even less than airfare in many cases. The reason is simple, cruises know that when they get you in the door you will spend money. You will buy drinks, you will go on excursions, and you will even buy things at their stores. You may even hit the casino a time (or 10). This is a mistake that many businesses made. They try and overcharge you initially, which makes you go elsewhere the next time around. They don’t realize that a long-term customer outweighs that quick score they may make on an initial sale. For instance, in my business I want clients that stay with me for years, and hopefully decades. So my price upfront to build sites may not be as high as other companies just wanting to design sites and then move on to the next project.
Bottom line: Cruise lines, like any successful business have learned their lessons over the years and know what works. The first cruise was in the year 1900, so they have quite a bit of experience to draw from. From that experience, you can take these lessons and improve the way you conduct business.