World Tour Installment #2: Customer Service on MSC Preziosa

 

msc customer serviceThis is the second installment in an examination of customer service in nine countries – and customer service aboard theMSC Preziosa
Customer Service on The MSC Preziosa. (for the previous installment, see this link)

There are not many places where customers have higher expectations than they do on cruise ships. The cruise industry has, at least from a marketing point of view, set the bar pretty high.

I’ve been on a few cruises, with a few different cruise lines, and have to say that they do a pretty decent job of meeting those expectations. No small feat, given the gigantic number of passengers they accommodate evey day – with people from every age, culture and language imaginable.

This is our first time on an MSC cruise, and it’s been interesting to contrast the customer service and overall experience levels to the other lines we’ve experienced. Our first impressions? Not great.

At first, we thought maybe it was just the language barrier, and language challenges that the crew experience. There is a hugely diverse group of passengers on this 3,000+ passenger boat, speaking Portuguese, Spanish, German and Italian. There are a few French speakers, and very few (we’ve found no-one else yet) English speakers. The staff have to be able to navigate all of these. The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that language – at least verbal language – wasn’t the issue.

Customer Service Is Not On The MSC Cruise Line Radar
It becomes obvious very quickly that process, efficiency and maximizing revenue are all they are really focused on. Customer service, for the most part, does not appear to be a priority.

Seriously – how hard is it to smile?
Getting anything remotely like a simple smile from anyone who works on the MSC Preziosa is pretty much out of the question. It has already become a game for us – trying to get a bartender, waiter, steward or any MSC employee to smile.

The answer is NO.
With one very notable exception of a wonderful young Brazilian employee at the customer service desk – Alejandro – they seem far more focused on enforcing the rules than on creating positive moments. As an example – We were walking through a passageway, when two employees began waving us away, saying ‘No! No!’ They pointed and gestured that we were to take a different route to our desitnation. We dutifully complied, but on completing our detour, went back to the people to ask why. (it turned out to be about a 6′ stretch of hallway that we had been blocked from). The person said – “Oh, you could have walked through. I thought you were trying to exit the ship.”

Had he taken the time, of course, to simply confirm where we were headed, and listen to the answer, the detour could have been avoided. But it seems to be far easier for the folks here to just say “No.”

But Wait, There’s More!

There’s more – things that are significantly substandard from a customer experience point of view – but to be fair to the people of The Preziosa, I’ll save that for the next post. It’s early days yet, and maybe our first impressions will turn out to be anomolies.

And, in defense of the staff of The MSC Preziosa, I am quite confident that the absense of customer service is more a reflection of the leadership on the boat than on the front line. I haven’t met the executive team yet, but whenever you see such a consistent lack of warmth or enthusiasm in such a large and diverse employee base, it is an attitude that has come from the top. I have researched, consulted and advised on customer experience for over 25 years now, and have almost never seeen an exception. A team’s behaviour is a direct reflection of their manager. Period.

Stay tuned!

Shaun


Shaun Belding is CEO of The Belding Group and has been consulting and speaking on customer experience for 24 years

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