If you’ve never done it before, you have to try this: Go to a country where virtually no-one speaks your language. Imagine trying to order from a menu written in a language you don’t unerstand, and nobody to translate. Imagine trying to buy a pair of shoes, tell a taxi driver where you want to go, or ask about WiFi. If everyone in the world would have such an experience, there would be far greater tolerance of immigrants and different cultures.
Such is Brazil for us.
The first night we were here, I randomly picked two things off of what appeared to be an appetizer section of a restaurant menu for four uf us to share. We ended up with one plate heaped with huge pastries filled with ground beef, and a second plate filled with… well… something.
Despite the language difficulties, the customer service we have experienced here has been okay. Not stellar. Not remarkable. But with the one exception of a taxi driver that didn’t speak English and couldn’t read Portuguese, people are patient and polite.
What we didn’t see were people who seemed happy, cheerful or tremendously engaged though. These are just jobs for these people, and not intended to be proud of or enjoyed.
One smiling young man approached us as we were walking through a market and said in perfect English, “You speak English! Where are you from ?” He then went on to tell us about a local restaurant we HAD to go to for lunch. Best in Santos we were told. Owned by his mother. Dutifully, we complied, thinking that maybe this would be a different experience, but once again it was okay.
Today, we head to the port to embark on the MSC Presioza. It is a gigantic ship, carrying over 3,000 passengers. We will be departing this on our way to Rio de Janiero.
Cruise ships are remarkable places to examine customer service. Customer expectations are high, and the workload for the staff is non-stop. I’ve seen a lot over the years – good and bad. Let’s see how MSC does. Stay tuned!
Shaun Belding is CEO of The Belding Group and has been consulting and speaking on customer experience for 23 years