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This Canopy Needed a Customer Service Safety Net

This Canopy Needed a Customer Service Safety Net

Remember when you went to the circus – under the Big Top – and flying acrobats and tightrope walkers used a safety net? Well, company brands can use a safety net, too. Both acrobats and brands can make missteps, or have bad timing, and plunge to serious injury. The circus provides a safety net. Brands should provide excellent customer service!

I rarely write consumer reviews, but I will tell a story. This story starts out sunny with verdant green fields, goes through trials and tribulations, and still has the possibility of a happy ending. Let’s see if customer service proves to be the white knight.

I recently started parking at Canopy Airport Parking at Denver International Airport (DIA). I drive a Camaro, and I do not like “leaving it to chance” that I could come back from a trip and have the car buried in snow or with significant hail damage. C’mon, I’m 45 years old – I like my sports car! My previous parking choice went to “monthly parking” only, so research sent me to Canopy. I detest the rising costs of airport parking in general, but Canopy had the best pricing to go along with an assortment of reward/coupon possibilities. I’m also very impressed that they are actually LEED Certified Gold facility that leverages solar, geothermal, and wind power. Throw in the options for open-air parking, covered parking, and valet parking – and you have a winner in my book.

My first experience with Canopy was exceptional. Wide and plentiful parking spots under a large canopy, and courteous and helpful bus drivers running shuttles every 10 minutes. I did not print out my coupon to save $3/day, but the attendant gladly accepted me holding out my iPhone with the coupon displayed from their site. My experience led me to start recommending Canopy as an ideal parking facility.

Then I had my second experience! My trip out of DIA had the same exemplary experience, but the return trip proved disastrous. Here is my story…

  • Our flight got into DIA at around 1:15am. Canopy proudly claims on their website that they are open 365 days a year – 24 hours a day – and shuttles run every 10 minutes. If between the hours of 12am – 7am, clients should call the Canopy office, and a shuttle will be there within 10 minutes. I start calling at 1:26am.
  • Raise your hand if you like automated messages. Wow, no hands – go figure?!? The Canopy automated message sent me in an endless loop. It immediately picked up, gave me options, reached the point of saying “leave a message” – and then immediately stated it could not perform that action at this time. This is where I had my first tweet…

Canopy Airport Parking at DIA

  • I finally reached a real person at 1:48am. I was not foul; however, I did vent my frustration with the attendant. Did I mention it was snowing and the wind chill was probably close to zero degrees? His response: take it up with management in the morning.
  • The shuttle driver finally arrives. We get on the shuttle, and a family of four gets on after us. The adults are not wearing jackets, and the two boys do not even have jackets. The shuttle driver tries to block their way because he says he is beyond capacity, and the mom goes Momma Bear and says she refuses to get left behind since they’ve been waiting in the near-zero temperatures for 45 minutes.
  • My daughter and I encourage everyone to cram together, so we could get the family on and “behind the white line”. The driver literally slouches in his seat and disengages. We eventually ask “why aren’t we moving”, and he says he can’t drive with more than 14 people (we had 16). We state that everyone is seated, and we are not going to put anyone out on the curb in freezing temperatures considering their poor response time. He refuses to move. Rather than make the “last ones on” – the family that sat in the cold for 45 minutes – get off the bus, my daughter and I did. Time for another tweet…

Canopy Airport Parking at DIA

  • The next shuttle driver drove like a maniac! He switched lanes multiple times while tailgating cars between lane changes. To put this in perspective, it took me about 90 minutes to drive home on a route that normally takes me about 35 minutes – because the ice had me driving sideways half the time! Several cars were stranded on the road…many of them pointing opposite of traffic because they ended in uncontrolled slides.
  • My last tweet went out at 1:58am. Canopy’s first response to that tweet does not come until 1:34pm that afternoon…almost 12 hours from my first tweet.
  • To their credit, Canopy’s response was apologetic and courteous with a sincere effort to seek resolution satisfactory for the customer. I think it is important to note that the follow-up tweets, email, and resultant phone conversation came from their Director of Marketing. Their frontline employees on the night shift may not have understood the power of customer service, but you can bet a Director of Marketing does!

A good story always has a “moral to the story” and hopefully a happy ending, right? Here are my morals, and Canopy will determine the extent of the happy ending.

  • A brand is only as good as its most recent customer experiences. You can have great products or services, but you are frequently judged by the emotions of the customer experience. Make sure your frontline employees are knowledgeable and courteous. When a bad situation arises, these employees should rise to the occasion and actively engage the customer. A simple “sorry – here, let me help you” can defuse most situations.
  • In addition to these frontline employees, your website, phone systems, and social profiles are front doors to your brand experience. If these systems are inconsistent, contradictory, delinquent – or worse, BROKEN – you may not get that second chance with the consumer. Battle test these systems, check for inconsistencies, and establish acceptable responses and response times.
  • If you are committing to social profiles, you must be prepared for the “near unreasonable” expectations that socially-savvy consumers have for response times. In an era where Delta Airlines recently won an airline response time to Twitter survey with an 11 minute average, a response time of 12 hours is not acceptable. Better that you have no social profiles rather than unresponsive social profiles – so actively monitor and engage with your consumers.

In conclusion, I’m not a consumer that burns a brand for one bad experience. In this case, the epic failure came from a night crew during extenuating circumstances – it was after midnight on a crazy, snowy night! Canopy has too many good attributes, and I really appreciate supporting a brand that “puts its money where its mouth is” when it comes to sustainable design. Based upon their final efforts to seek customer satisfaction, I will give them another try at retaining my business for the long haul.

What would you do?

Photo Credit: Ringling Brothers Circus by Bob n Renee, on Flickr

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Brian Vickery

I love my Vickery Girls - and grandsons! My career has blessed me to the point I was able to start a new consultancy in 2018: Analytic Integrity. I look to provide analytic experience, and business integrity, to an Analytics world while helping data-driven organizations mature. I enjoy teaching and coaching, watching football and basketball, and playing tennis. I graduated UT-Austin.

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  1. It always perplexes me that we dis-empower the very people that should be empowered to solve a customer’s problem, exercise best judgment and provide solutions…the front lines. When you have an experience like you did, it doesn’t matter that the director of marketing knows what to say, how to smooth the waters and genuinely want to rectify the situation. The situation can’t be rectified if the front line/employees don’t walk that same talk. It’s a pervasive problem. Company policy and expectation is one thing: it’s quite another to have everyone in the same boat rowing in the same direction. Clearly there is a huge disconnect here. Hope you’ve warmed up from the experience:) Cheers! Kaarina

    • LIke I said – hopefully it was a tired night shift on a blizzard-y day. My other three experiences (one round trip, and the trip out) were top-shelf. I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt, but I hope they take corrective action with the employees in question.
      And I’m not recommending the firing of employees…but definitely treat it as a TEACHABLE MOMENT!

    • KDillabough  agree one hundred percent,. This is what I was trying to say too. In my extensive experience, all the upper managers, directors of marketing, lead agents (at least in the 3+ companies I have worked for as a CSR) are all cowards who will bend to anything the Customer wants and throws the CSR’s under the bus. Every Single Time.

      • waheguru022 KDillabough Like my previous reply, I do think some consumers understand this “dance” and abuse it. And yes, I can see where that frontline employee is the easy scapegoat.
        That’s a poisonous environment. The good ones will find better company cultures, and the customer service will further degrade as less qualified and disengaged CSRs take their place.

  2. Of course, your last tweet went out at 1:58 am…..while you were driving….
    @AdamToporek had a good post about businesses that make deposits so when you have that bad experience you aren’t ready to throw the baby out with the bath water. There is still enough money in the bank to cover it. 

    I’ll bet if you had back to back experiences like that then they better start giving you free stuff to make up for it, huh?

    • bdorman264 Great point, Bill. As consultants, we always talked about depositing in the “love bank”. Give ‘em little extras – could be extra hours, throwing in new functionality, allowing scope creep ON OCCASION – so you kept a healthy balance of goodwill for when things occasionally went off the rails.
      I firmly believe in that approach, and brands should really take heed. Too much competition in the world to afford giving crappy customer experiences.

  3. the Marketing Manager always has the ability to do things the normal CSR’s can’t. Most companies give their on-phone agents such a limited playbook that it reflects badly on the CSR (even though they are doing exactly what they are told to do), and then if a customer is such a squeeky wheel it gets escallated then eventually some “manager” or lead agent will do some white knight crap and apologize and blame it on the CSR’s. Same story, every company.

    • waheguru022 Customer service is definitely something you can’t do “by rote”. And if escalation allows CSRs to be used as a scapegoat anyway (which is wrong), then they should be given more latitude in solving the issues. They also need to understand the business better vs simply being some barely minimum wage student with no practical experience yet.
      I also believe that some consumers know how to abuse this process – especially in the age of social media. I know I definitely tweeted my disappointment with the hopes of getting better response than the automated phone system! However, I then took a couple days to cool off before writing this post. I wanted to record the bad experience, but I also wanted to put it in the context of the good this company has to offer…and to also mention the GOOD customer service experiences I’ve had with them.
      Basically, I’m using it as a “teachable moment”.