Tuesday, March 12, 2013

It's All About Customer Service

(1:02) Some time ago we asked ActiveCaptain boaters for feedback about what they wanted most from marinas. The number one request was for dockhands who can properly tie up a boat.

(0:55) From all the feedback there was one suggestion that makes so much sense that it stopped me in my tracks and made me realize that every marina should implement it for a variety of reasons.

(0:50) Milt Baker, a well known and respected cruiser, and long time friend gave the suggestion: dockside check-in/check-out. His notion was reenforced just a couple of days later when we checked in dockside at Halifax Harbor Marina in Daytona Beach. It was terrific.

(0:44) I think Milt said it best: "Something I'd like to see a lot more of at marinas: check-ins/check-outs right at the boat, as opposed to the skipper having to hike all the way to the office (and often wait in line) to have his credit card imprinted, then make the same trip again on check-out. It is, or should be, all about the marina serving the skipper, not the other way around. The skipper is the customer and ought to be treated like he or she is valued highly by the marina. At-the-slip check-in is easy with today's technology and it's a no-brainer!"

(0:33) He's right. Show boaters from the start that you are about serving them. The best customer service is about giving customers what they need or want as simply as possible. Successful high-end businesses do this all the time. Think about when you go out for dinner to a high-end restaurant and they take your credit card at your table. They want you to stay, enjoy, and talk and don't expect you to walk to a counter and wait in line. It is one of those subtle marks of quality.

(0:23) The good news is that today it is trivial to do. There are an abundance of credit card swiping devices that are made for the mobile environment. Your merchant bank can offer a variety of portable solutions.

(0:17) If possible, consider credit card processing that provides a normal receipt for signing. This mechanism will greatly expand the number of boaters who will add tips to the receipt as it plays into the normal tipping environment that we're used to and is more comfortable for boaters like us who never carry cash. Your dockhands will race down the dock to help when they start seeing that.

(0:08) Remember - providing full service dockside is more than just collecting the money. Make sure boaters receive a Welcome Packet and other helpful information they would normally receive in the marina office. You do have a Welcome Packet, right?

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.