The last stop before I get home is Calgary for a couple of days. I walked down the funky 17th avenue shopping/restaurant district. Mostly independent retailers and restaurateurs, with a few franchise chains sprinkled in. I went to lunch as a Quizno’s there (before I knew of all the cool funky stuff around), and thought it was deserted. I stood alone in the restaurant for a solid minute before someone came out from behind the counter. He spoke very few words and barely acknowledged me. By the time I had taken my tray to the table, he had vanished again, never to be seen again. This was a little problematic later on, since they required a key access to the washroom, and I never did manage to get someone’s attention.
The independent stores, however, are delightful, and I would recommend this strip to anyone. It reminded me of my previous day on Whyte Avenue in Edmonton. The stores are funky and different, and a refreshing change from the cookie cutter malls that dominate today’s retail environment. I found the people inside to be friendly, interested, engaged and fun. The customer service experience was wonderful.
The Delta Bow Valley Hotel I was staying at was a study in contrast. During the day, the staff were great – friendly, helpful and knowledgeable. This morning, however, as I went hunting for someone to call me a cab, I found a group of people who seemed to actively try to avoid customers, and had no idea what to do when they found one. Strange…
As I write this, I am sitting in the Air Canada flight from Calgary to Ottawa. Another outstanding customer service experience from them. Really, aside from a couple of overtly hostile ticket agents in Moncton a couple of weeks back, Air Canada remains, in my opinion, the leading airline for customer service. They are perhaps tied with ANA, but they are beating their rival WestJet. Interesting, actually. I think WestJet has fallen into the trap so many companies do. So convinced they are of their superiority in customer experience, they can’t see that they are falling behind.
They’re in good company, with Disney, Ritz-Carleton, Marks & Spencer, Sears, Canadian Tire, Wal*Mart – the list goes on.
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