How to retain customers

David Epps's picture

My wife and I took our first cruise a few weeks ago. We were going to take a cruise on our 25th wedding anniversary back in 1996, but we took the money and started a church instead.

We happened to wind up using the Princess Cruise Lines. It was not what I expected. In fact, it was much better than I anticipated — especially when it came to the care and treatment of passengers.

Princess, which started in 1965 with one ship cruising to Mexico, was rocketed to fame in 1977 when it became the ship of the TV series, “The Love Boat.”

From the time we deplaned until we received our bags at the airport for our return flight, Princess personnel were everywhere making sure that our trip was excellent.

Every employee, without exception, acted as though we were the most important people they had met that day and that our needs (even our wishes) were, if possible, fulfilled. Both on land and on sea, the story was the same — excellent customer care, problem solving, and follow-up.

It was not surprising to learn that Princess drills into its employees “The 10 Points of Princess Service” which are:
1. We strive to be the very best.
2. We act quickly to solve passenger problems.
3. We smile — we are on stage.
4. We are friendly, helpful and courteous.
5. We are ambassadors for our ship both at work and at play.
6. Our uniforms are immaculate.
7. We are positive.
8. We use proper telephone etiquette.
9. We are knowledgeable about all ship information.
10. We never say no.

One might think that these are simply talking points or propaganda. However, we found the crew and land-based employees all living out the 10 points.

For example, in Point 2 we discovered that, at every turn, the crew did whatever it took to please the passengers and to correct any problems. A missing piece of luggage, for example, was found in 10 minutes.

“We smile — we are on stage.” Even during the mandatory safety drill in which 2,000 passengers are required to head toward assembly areas for the lecture, the crew made the event easy, quick, and even fun.

The lady in charge of Area A, for example, kept passengers smiling, even laughing, and what could have been a drudge and a time-waster simply became another pleasant incident to remember.

My personal favorite was Number 10 — “We never say no.” Staff might have suggested alternatives, or a supervisor might have been consulted ... but the word “no” was not to be heard.

I am aware that there are other cruise lines, but if we ever do another cruise — and I suspect we will — Princess will be where we look first. Other businesses — and churches, for that matter — should learn a lesson from the cruise line.

The 10 Points have personally challenged me. As the pastor of a church and the bishop of a diocese, I can easily see where we have failed in several areas to meet the needs of some of those who trust us during their spiritual journeys.

I’m afraid that we are not always positive, or helpful, nor do we always strive to be the best.

Sometimes, our knee-jerk reaction in the church is to say “no” to some new idea or a request. But, having been on the receiving end of the 10 Points, I am challenged to do and be better.

Like Princess, I want people to have a good experience — and I want them to come back and to tell their friends.

[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, 4881 Hwy. 34 E., Sharpsburg, GA 30277. Services are held Sundays at 8:30 and 10 a.m. (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese (www.midsouthdiocese.org) and is the mission pastor of Christ the King Fellowship in Champaign, IL. He may be contacted at frepps@ctkcec.org.]

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