• Stephan Busch

Lowering the expectations – lowering our standards

Is only good - good enough?

The reasons why even only “good” service is hard to find anymore did not start in the hotel industry but in all customer service industries. The hotel industry jumped onboard and many are drifting into mediocrecy like all the others industries that are supposed to offer service. It is not saving cost that destroys service - it is cutting cost – cutting service. As John Hendrie put it in an article about hotel and restaurant service in 2006:

” We have done a pretty good job with lowering expectations, but that spiral can only descend so far.”

(4) Rescue From Mediocrity. The Decline Of Service Etiquette – A Sequel - by John R. Hendrie, Hospitality Performance, Inc. 2006

The airline industry is one example. Before everybody had access to the internet the airlines had the advantage of huge computer systems that calculated the high ticket prices in busy times and offered low prices in slow times. The customer had a ball pen and a piece of paper – and no chance other than to pay. Nowadays the table has turned and the internet calculates very fast the best price for the guest together with the best connections. Anybody flying from Rom to Paris doesn’t care anymore what logo is on the airplane. The airline brand has no value anymore. Loyalty cards, Miles programs are only an attempt to put some scotch tape on a hole of a leaking bucket.

How did the most of airlines, the CEO’s react ? Unfortunately the same way that the hotel industry and our owners and top management reacted to the same problem the hotels are facing today.

Instead of demolishing their obsolete business model the airlines tried to compete on price. Be the cheapest on the market and the net. That of course could only work if cost are cut. The service was cut wherever possible. A meal became a sandwich.

Service goes first

Also in crisis the first that has to go is service. At one point during the financial crisis in Asia Garuda Airlines announced that they would cut 20% of cabin staff and 80% of their Maintenance staff. Don’t worry who serves your coffee! Worry who serves the plane!

Telephone companies are reduced to the price tag. Service if the system doesn’t work? How for this price? Loyal guest that book a hotel room with Hilton only? Why if the internet gives me 100 option at the same location of great hotel rooms plus AIRBNB and other options? The loyal Hilton guest wouldn’t have searched before – now he gets it all offered and gets interested in other options.

For a long time companies and customers didn’t realize the downward spiral of the price game. Some customers leaving because of bad service ? Nobody answering the service line? Hard to notice.

I once needed to chance my flight with Air Berlin and tried the only service number the ticket and related paperwork offered. It was never answered. No e-mail address – no service center. I had to go to the airport to find someone I could talk to and was treated like a nuisance. I never used the Airline again. They first lost 50% of their stock value and finally went out of business. Maybe it has something to do with customer service?

You should think that at one point the highly paid top management would notice. They should have realized that this can’t go on forever. At one point products got so useless because of the missing service that people stopped buying. Where is the value of a cheap airline ticket when the planes are constantly late or cancelled and the food lousy or separately paid for? Who needs a cheap internet service provider when the net is always down? Who needs a cheap business lunch that takes ages to be served and is of mediocre quality?

Who wants tp pay for that?

The result? The price the customer is willing to pay for this services goes down to Zero.

In Germany a customer once posted on Facebook “As soon as my Vodafone contract ( telephone) is finished – I will get out and never renew with them!”. This post received more than 140.000 “LIKES”. Great advertising of services cut!


© 2017 by Stephan Busch