I recently returned from a 2 week tour in China and was quite pleasantly surprised that customer satisfaction processes seem to be built into Chinese culture. Here are 3 examples of what I observed.
1. Customer satisfaction survey
I was traveling with a tour company who made all the hotel reservations. Mostly we stayed in four and five star hotels with many North American amenities. One of the hotels happened to be a Sheraton Hotel and I brought my Starwoods number with me. Starwoods is the loyalty program for Sheraton hotels.
I presented my loyalty number at the front desk. It was accepted graciously, though only for any extra charges, as the hotel booking was paid for by the tour. The benefit to the hotel was that my Starwoods number gave them an email address to follow up with me later.
Within a day or two after my departure, a full fledged customer satisfaction survey appeared in my email. I didn’t respond right away as I was still traveling, so a few days later, another request in the form of a remind appeared in my email in basket. I responded to the survey (requested in my language, not Chinese). It was quite extensive.
A few days after I completed the survey, I received an email from the hotel manager, thanking me for taking part in the survey and for the high marks I had given the hotel on the survey. They appreciated the recognition. They also said they would not rest on their laurels and would continue to strive to improve their service, features and most important, the emotional touch. That was a very nice touch which I seldom see after I respond to a survey.
2. Complaint line
I was taking a Rickshaw ride in Beijing. A rickshaw consists of a bicycle type apparatus with a covered bench seat for two pulled behind it, the back part having 2 wheels. Here’s a picture of a Rickshaw (but I am not anywhere in this picture).
At the back of each Rickshaw, is a message in Chinese, which I expected plus one in English which I did not expect. It provided a complaint number to call. If a tourist was unhappy with their ride, their driver or anything else, a complaint number could be called. The picture below shows the back of the Rickshaw ahead of me that provided this complaint number.
I also found a complaint number (in English) printed at the entrance to other attractions, generally over the ticket booth.
3. External Signage
While I was touring in various cities in China, particularly in Beijing and Shanghai, I noticed very large signs on buildings, most were in Chinese, which is to be expected but a few were in English. Once in a while, I saw an English sign that said ‘Customer is Priority.’ I cannot tell you what company this sign referred to because the company name was in Chinese, but the fact that they had an English sign proclaiming Customer is a Priority, was very impressive.
The tour I took to China was very well organized, including the hotels, the attractions, the buses, the meals and the baggage handling. It appeared to me that the Chinese, even with its rapid growth and its expanding prosperity, has not fallen victim to poor customer service. They have picked up the best practices from other countries and implemented them well in their own environment.
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