Sea ViewsFrom President and COO, Adam Goldstein

Sea Views Blog with Adam Goldstein

Why the Style of Customer Feedback is Important

You can imagine I receive a fair amount of correspondence by letter and email.  Our guests like to write about their cruises.  Sometimes they tell me how great everything was.  Sometimes they tell me about their issues.  In the latter case, our customer service team works with the ships and various shoreside areas to investigate the issues and respond to the writer as quickly as we can.

There are many styles of correspondence when it comes to guests informing us of issues they have had.  Sometimes the writer gives compliments where he/she believes they are due, either before or after detailing the problems that have precipitated the letter/email.  Sometimes the writer appears to believe the longer the letter the better chance of making an impression on us.  Some writers get right to the point: problem statement, requested remedy, goodbye.  Some writers make it clear they will return to us no matter what.  Others make it equally clear they will never sail with us again.  Some letters are statements of opinion about culinary, entertainment, shore excursions, etc.  Some are pinpointing very specific service or other failures that they want fixed or at least recognized.  Because our cruises mean so much to our guests, we read the gamut of human emotions and reactions.  It is these comments and reactions that help us understand what we are doing right as a brand or where we have opportunities to review certain aspects of our product.

At the end of the day, we understand how all of our guests look forward to their vacation and how emotional a vacation can be.  Our shipboard and shoreside staff works hard to provide the best product and service possible – and on the rare occasion that something does go wrong, they do their best to assist and allow us to learn from what transpired.

It’s rare that we encounter rude or boorish sentiments from our guests, but it happens from time to time.  When it does happen, I am occasionally unable to restrain myself from commenting, as I know all of the effort that goes into assisting our guests.  For example, earlier this week, in an email to one of my top customer relations colleagues, the writer stated “Mark Twain said it best, “You never argue with an idiot.  They’ll bring you down to their level and they’ll beat you with years of experience.”  All my colleague wanted to do was help with a situation that was complicated on the guest’s side, not because of anything we had done.  I advised the guest that I was not enamored with the sentiment expressed towards my colleague and that we would not take further action on the matter.  Some readers may view this as a violation of the principle that the customer is always right, but in my view when a guest crosses a certain line either in writing or on the phone I will back up my colleague.  I’m curious to hear the readers’ views on this.

20 responses to:
“Why the Style of Customer Feedback is Important”

  1. Robin

    I have cruised with Royal Caribbean twice before and loved it! Both times we left from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. My question is … does Royal Caribbean have any cruises leaving from Charleston, SC?

    • Adam

      Hi Robin – We’re glad you’ve enjoyed your cruises with us. We don’t currently have any sailings from Charleston, but we’ll keep it in mind for future departure ports.

  2. Camille

    Adam… I have been on both sides of this…the good side and the horrible side…I have acted ornery and I have given praise to your crew for putting up with the good and the bad side of me… but when the cruise is over I can’t wait till I can take another cruise on Royal Caribbean ….thanks for putting up with me……

  3. Ken Houston

    Bravo! I have always found that the best bosses are the ones that stand up for their employees. Just because a customer has a concern it does not give them the right to abuse and take advantage of the employees that are there trying to help them.

  4. Julia

    The level of customer service in the States is actually above and beyond better compared to other parts of the world – and this happens to be because ‘ the customer is always right’ is an idea and ‘philosophy’ which has been around for quite some time in the service industries here. This is not to say that customer service across the board is always stellar, but leaning towards the customer’s favor is generally an acceptable sentiment in these industries.

    What happens sometimes is that customers end up thinking of themselves as consumers – especially those who cruise a lot and start to believe that their ‘status’ owes them certain levels of service and recognition above what is normally provided. This kind of consumer mindset takes the ‘human’ out of the person.

    So, it’s important that customers realize if a representative is willing to help resolve issues – particularly lengthy complicated ones – then they also have a responsibility to respond courteously and professionally. If the CEO gets involved, then it goes without saying that being unprofessional and ‘boorish’ is just pure idiocy. And the writer himself advised to never argue with idiots.

    • Cameron M.

      Adam, I think you handled this exactly right. I used to work in retail management and frequently had to handle these types of situations. I personally don’t subscribe to the philosophy that the customer is always right. In fact more often than not they are wrong! However, I always taught my employees that even if a customer isn’t right, the customer still knows what it is that they want. It is up to the employee to do everything reasonable in their power to help the customer get want they want resolution wise.

      If/When customers crossed the line with an employee, my employees knew I would have their back and my bosses had my back!

  5. Tom

    Adam: As we all know there are people in this world that you will never be able to satisfy. I think a line is crossed when a person becomes rude or abusive towards shipboard crew or shore side staff. At that point of time I think it is important for management to stick up for their staff, whether it be the CEO, the Captain or a Hotel Director. I have been on 30 cruises on the line and some have been better then others. However, when I have had a constructive comment to make about something that wasn’t right, I have always appreciated the level of effort and professionalism that goes into addressing my comment, both from shipboard management and corporate staff including your office.

    While I find myself sailing Celebrity more these days, due to their more restrictive smoking policy, RCCL’s customer service is one of the reasons that I have not strayed from the RCCL corporate family of lines.

  6. Grace

    Often in the rabid race for the Almighty dollar, the human element gets tossed out the window. This is just a reminder that people often forget that the voice on the other end of the phone (or email) is indeed a human who is doing their best to earn a living. It is empowering when someone in the high positions remembers this and even speaks up against what amounts to bullying. Thank you, sir. And may the business world take note. Maybe there should be a new motto, “We charge extra for abuse.” Have a great day.

  7. Celeste B

    Adam,

    Supporting your co-workers and staff is the most important action you can take as a supervisor. Bravo!! Rude and abusive behavior is unacceptable even from a customer. Coming from 20+ years in retail you always want to be the hero and exceed your customers expectations. This is who we are…. It’s unfortunate in these times that people feel this is the only way to get their point across or get their way. Feeding into this behavior only validates it instead of correcting it. Thank you for being part of the solution!

    We travel frequently on the Explorer. Will the Quantum have some of the same crew? We would love to continue to see our RC family!

    Sincerely,

    Celeste

  8. George

    Dear Adam, I believe the quote from Mark Twain “You never argue with an idiot. They’ll bring you down to their level and they’ll beat you with years of experience.” is totally appropriate. However it has been my experience that Royal Caribbean customer relations never try to lower themselves to that level. They always attempt to pull the complainer up and be reasonable in attaining a solution to the problem. Thanks for all that each and every one of the Royal Caribbean crew members do each day.

  9. Michael

    Dear Adam,

    I admire you standing up for your colleague. By doing so, you demonstrated the highest form of leadership…caring for your those you lead. I think it is fantastic and highly admirable. Once a guest crosses the line, they no longer reserve the right to be listened to in a respectful manner. Bravo Adam. By the way, my wife and I took our first and only cruise on your ship Allure of the Seas two years ago. WOW is right! Can you please position Oasis 3 at Port Canaveral? A completely selfish question, but I just thought I would ask.

  10. Mary

    What you say is sometimes not as important as how you say it. My very recent trip aboard RCI Freedom of the Seas bears witness to this. Although none of the statements I was the recipient of except one were rude in word, I found the attitude they were delivered with to be extremely belligerent. When I asked for a supervisor rather than argue with an attendant, she excused the actions of the attendant saying he was a nice guy. Perhaps you missed an opportunity by using diplomacy to understand a deeper issue with your cruise line. Or perhaps not. Maybe the attitudes I encountered are a direct result of a management style that refuses to see the bad. I had to be careful how I phrased this reply because from what I understand, if my comments are not deemed appropriate you won’t hear them.

  11. winston liew

    Hi Adam,
    I was on the Mariner of the Seas (Singapore -Phuket-Singapore from 25th to 29th Nov 2013. Grand Suite 1574 and Balcony 1366). This is the family’s 1st Royal Carribean cruise vacation. I would like to say that it was an almost perfect holiday. All the crew and staff put in a herculean effort to ensure we had a good time. In any vacation it is the pple that makes the difference and the staff of the Mariner of the Seas must be commended to have made the difference to us.

    The housekeepers and waiters/waitresses went all out to ensure tt all our needs were satisfied and the sincerety of service certainly showed. Pls extend our sincere thx to all concerned.

    The near perfect holiday was however marred by the our disembarkation experience.

    Let me elaborate. On our last evening on the Mariner, we had celebrated my sons birthday at the fine Italian restaurant, Giovanni. A birthday cake was purchased (thro Giovanni for US$15) for the occasion. Unfortunately the meal was so substantial it was impossible to have the cake. We thus decided to take away the cake to be consumed when we return home. However at the the point of disembarkation, we were stopped by an officer who insisted tt we could not take the cake with us. I ask for an explanation , and he said tt Singapore Custom Laws forbid importation of food items. Not knowing any better my son gave up the cake reluctantly to the officer concerned.

    Returning home i did a bit of checking with singapore custom and have found out tt small low value food item (including cakes) is allowed. Of course i am abit annoyed tt my son has been disappointed for spurious reasons.

    It is definitely unfortunate that the effort of so many on the Mariner had been compromised by the action of one over zealous officer. I hope you would look into this issue and look fwd to sailing with Royal Carribean soon.

  12. Reeshma & Sanjay

    Hi Adam,

    My husband and I have been reading some of your blogs and we came across this one about consumer complaints. (We searched for a way to contact you directly and we hope this is it!) We just completed a letter we would like you to read regarding our experience with the Royal Romance Department. Yes, our letter has a lot of detail, however, we felt it was necessary to provide you with adequate information on our experience for our wedding.

    How can I ensure that this letter will reach you?

    Our cruise departed on March 10th, 2014 from the port of Miami, Florida.

    Hope to hear from you in the very near future.

    Warm regards,

    Reeshma & Sanjay

    P: 416.559.6515 or 416.994.5887

    • Royal Caribbean International

      Hi Reeshma & Sanjay,

      Please contact us at http://bit.ly/ContactRoyal so that we can help.

  13. Jane

    Hi Adam

    Whilst I agree with the sentiment in your post, your own website and booking staff have a long way to go in my view. I’ve encountered a payment discrepancy error in my booking twice so far. Both times it was an error at your end. On the second occasion, the agent on the line refused to accept it as an error and was quite difficult, arrogant and unhelpful. His supervisor did not want to come on the line but he was told to investigate and call back. He didn’t call back in the agreed time but had resolved the error in your system. To top it all off another agent told me that I wouldn’t be able to complete as they were too busy to update the system (she said it would be 4 days or so).

    It’s quite telling that the main hit on Google for “Royal Caribbean customer complaints” returns this post, the second hit is the contact details for the area that is causing the problem. I have filled in the contact form (shown in a link in an earlier comment) and I received a response telling me you would be in touch within 30 days!! Not exactly an ideal response for a complaint, even worse considering it relates to a cruise that starts in 31 days.

    It’s not a perfect world but my experience is that your company has a clumsy system, and is generally inaccessible and has a poor attitude as far as complaints go. If that carries through to other areas then I can see why customers, who fork out huge sums of money, might get a little angry.

  14. john

    I raised issues I had on my last cruise on the post cruise survey and thought someone might have got back to me to ask further info. When this didn’t happen however, I used the contact us form on the website to highlight several problems that I had encountered. It has now been a full month and still no reply, how else can I raise a compliant? Its all well and good people on here saying people complain too much and the customer isn’t always right etc, but it sounds more like a cover up for non existent customer service.

    • Royal Caribbean International

      Hi John, Please accept our apologies for the delayed response. It does seem that an email was sent regarding the concerns mentioned, perhaps it is in your spam folder.

  15. rob harwood

    Hi Adam, I have recently started cruising with you in the last 2 years. I am already a Platinum member and my kids love it. Recently I tried to book a cruise from the UK. As a single parent travelling with 3 kids I am unable to book on line and I have to ring your UK number as the website cannot book inter connecting or 4 in a room bookings.

    I tried to do this but could not get through to your call centre. What then happened has been a really poor customer experience which is still unresolved. I think the problem has started because you have relocated the call centre.

    I then entered into email via your website and things have gone from bad to worse. I last emailed RCI on 5th Aug and still not heard anything.

    What’s interesting is I used to work for Yum Restaurants international and within my department was the Customer Service Team. When I read your blog I related to your comments and I think my email chain was toned down to try and be as fair as possible. I have listed it below. I would be interested to hear what you think about how I dealt with complaining to RCI and how you dealt with me.

    ________________________________________
    From: robharwood@hotmail.co.uk
    To: jamejia@rccl.com
    Subject: RE: PCS enquiry – Royal Caribbean
    Date: Tue, 5 Aug 2014 16:20:02 +0100
    Dear Sir,

    I ended up going into a travel agent yesterday out of frustration and booked the cruise there.

    I am really frustrated with Royal Caribbean booking. I have never had any issues before but the system this time has been terrible. I started trying to book the cruise a few months ago and the only reason I have finally done it is through determination on my behalf. Had I not cruised with you on a number of occasions I would not have persisted and I would have booked with another cruise company. The issue is because I cannot book on line because its 1 adult and 3 children.

    The cruises are fantastic and my children and I really enjoy Royal Caribbean.

    I could not get through on the phone and once we got into email dialogue it took you days to get back to me. The last email took you a week to get back to me.

    The whole process is totally unacceptable.

    I do want to complain formally as I have had to pay an increased cost. This is due to the time it has taken me to book. Over the 2 months the accommodation I wanted has gone (inside) and the price has increased.

    Please can you provide me with details of who I should email my complaint to.

    Regards

    Rob Harwood
    ________________________________________
    To: robharwood@hotmail.co.uk
    Subject: Re: PCS enquiry – Royal Caribbean
    From: JAMejia@rccl.com
    Date: Tue, 5 Aug 2014 04:11:24 -0600

    Good Afternoon,

    Thank you for the information on the booking, I have checked and found the details you requested. Please find the details below. If you will like to go ahead and make this definite feel free to reply your contact information so I can reach you back.

    We actually do not have any more inside interconnecting rooms available, however I have found promenade rooms that we can use that are interconnecting.

    Inside Promenade View
    Prices per double room
    GBP £1,482.16 (Including gratuities, taxes and fees, cruise fare and USD $100.00 per stateroom)

    Regards,
    A. Joseph Mejia
    Direct Sales & Service Specialist
    RCL Cruises Ltd
    Royal Caribbean International & Azamara Club Cruises
    JAMejia@rccl.com

    Award Winning Cruise Lines:
    Cruise International Awards 2013 – Best Cruise Line
    Travel Weekly Globe Awards 2013 – Best Mainstream Cruise Company, Royal Caribbean International
    TTG Awards 2013 – Best Cruise Company, Royal Caribbean International *Prices are not guaranteed until your reservation has been confirmed with a deposit or full payment. Price is based on availability and subject to change.

    o o o
    o o o
    o o o
    __/7__/7__/7_
    ___ / ===[]====[]===\__
    \: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : |
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    “Knowledge will give you power, but character respect.”

    From: Rob Harwood
    To: Jose Antonio Mejia ,
    Date: 07/29/2014 11:46 AM
    Subject: Re: PCS enquiry – Royal Caribbean
    ________________________________________

    26th October France and Spain Cruise 7 nights sailing from Southampton. All other detail is in email below

    Sent from my iPhone

    On 29 Jul 2014, at 06:16 pm, “Jose Antonio Mejia” wrote:

    Good Afternoon Rob,

    I will love to quote this for you and help you book this. Can you put me up to date in regard to what exactly you will like. Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Regards,
    A. Joseph Mejia
    Direct Sales & Service Specialist
    RCL Cruises Ltd
    Royal Caribbean International & Azamara Club Cruises
    JAMejia@rccl.com

    Award Winning Cruise Lines:
    Cruise International Awards 2013 – Best Cruise Line
    Travel Weekly Globe Awards 2013 – Best Mainstream Cruise Company, Royal Caribbean International
    TTG Awards 2013 – Best Cruise Company, Royal Caribbean International *Prices are not guaranteed until your reservation has been confirmed with a deposit or full payment. Price is based on availability and subject to change.

    o o o
    o o o
    o o o
    __/7__/7__/7_
    ___ / ===[]====[]===\__
    \: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : |
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    “Knowledge will give you power, but character respect.”
    —– Forwarded by Jose Antonio Mejia/RZ/LON/RCLEurope on 07/29/2014 11:10 AM —–

    From: bookingsupportuk@rccl.com
    To: Jose Antonio Mejia/RZ/LON/RCLEurope@RCLEUROPE,
    Date: 07/27/2014 08:14 AM
    Subject: Fw: PCS enquiry – Royal Caribbean
    ________________________________________

    —– Forwarded by bookingsupportuk@rccl.com on 07/27/2014 08:14 AM —–
    Rob Harwood

    07/25/2014 02:39 AM
    To “bookingsupportuk@rccl.com”

    cc
    Subject Re: PCS enquiry – Royal Caribbean

    Many thanks for getting back to me Ruben,

    I am on holiday at the moment in Barcelona.

    I want to book the cruise from Southampton to France and Spain at the end October 2014.

    I 3 kids 11, 11 and 8 and myself.

    I want interconnecting inside rooms.

    Please can you advise on the best price please.

    I am a Platinum RCI member.

    Regards

    Rob

    Sent from my iPhone

    > On 24 Jul 2014, at 04:10 pm, bookingsupportuk@rccl.com wrote:
    >
    > Rob,
    >
    > I have tried to call you twice today and both times the call was answered
    > but no one answered on the other line. Do you have another number where we
    > can reach you or can you try to give us a call today and ask to speak
    > directly with me, my name is Ruben and I’m one of the supervisors here at
    > Royal Caribbean. If you would like for us to call you back please provide
    > us another number and best time to call you so you can be expecting our
    > call. I look forward in hearing from you.
    >
    > Regards,
    >
    > Ruben
    > Sales UK Supervisor
    >
    >
    >
    > |———————————————-+—————————————————————————————————->
    > | | |
    > | | |
    > | Robharwood@hotmail.co.uk | To|
    > | | BookingSupportUK@rccl.com |
    > | 07/21/2014 11:38 AM | cc|
    > | | |
    > | | Subject|
    > | | PCS enquiry – Royal Caribbean |
    > | | |
    > |———————————————-+—————————————————————————————————->
    >> —|
    > | |
    >> —|
    >
    >
    >
    > The following PCS enquiry has been received:
    > First Name : Rob
    > Last Name : Harwood
    > Email : Robharwood@hotmail.co.uk
    > Enquiry : new
    > Comments : I have requested call backs. And phoned twice. Been waiting for
    > 15 minutes and again can’t get through. Please can someone call me 07970
    > 283191
    >

    • Royal Caribbean International

      Hello Rob, thank you for contacting us. We are deeply sorry to hear of the difficulty you have experienced in making and servicing your booking with us. We train all of our employees to provide best-in-class service on all occasions and we apologize your experience has not reflected our commitment to complete guest satisfaction. Your comments have been forwarded to our operational teams for internal review, as this will help us to improve in the areas where it is needed. Thank you for your understanding and we are looking forward to welcoming you onboard the Adventure of the Seas this coming October.

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