Good service all around on skiing trip to Val d’Isere
Travelling overseas can often be a challenging experience but a recent trip to Val d’Isere, France, on a skiing holiday has proven to be so good from a customer service point of view that we thought it might be worth writing about all the small things which made the difference.
The first good experience was at the time of the security check when entering the Eurostar terminal. Despite it being a busy day, the security zone was well staffed and queues kept to a minimum. Above all, several members of staff were in a very good mood, engaging in casual chats and making it easy for passengers. They were even handing out specially designed trays whereby one could put a coffee cup through the scanner without spilling it, none of the leave your drink behind situation that one encounters so often. Similarly, passport control was professional yet friendly. On the return leg of the journey, a member of security staff was helping passenger load their luggages on the scanning equipement. When highlighting that this was rather unusual and he might hurt himself if he kept doing it, he replied, with a smile that he was only doing this particular job one day a week and was keen to help. Not sure if this was actually in his job description but he certainly had a great customer service attitude.
Boarding the train was made easy by hostesses keen and ready to help. Smooth journey, with a couple of stops and delays but at all time these were well handled, with train staff informing customers at all time of what was going on.
On arrival in Bourg Saint Maurice, despite the delay the French taxi driver was waiting patiently, no complaints about the delay, providing advice about the resort, best places to visit, where to ski and in which part of the resort the snow was best depending on the weather and time of the day. Drove us to our destination with no fuss, no surchage and a smile. Similarly on the return journey, the vehicle was waiting for us on time, despite the challenging weather conditions and drop us back at the departure terminal right on time. Different driver but equally impeccable way to handle clients.
We were welcomed in our accomodation by the resort accomodation concierge, again smiling in a pleasant way, showing us facilities, all with an attitude driven by the desire to provide a great customer service as opposed to following a rule book. Nicely done. Throughout the stay, we were offered help and assistance, and one person went beyond the call of duty, lending some of their own belongings to help out.
Picking up skiing equipment the next day was again made very easy, friendly technicians, proposing alternative equipment, happy for their customers to change their mind and again very service driven, explaining different options and offering support over the length of our stay. Support was called upon a couple of times over the next few days and they delivered exactly as per the expectations that they had set, making it a very pleasant experience. At the end of the stay, returning equipment was very easy as well, and the owner even made adjustment to the final bill, because despite supplying better quality equipment, they did so at the price they promised, a kind of upgrade at no cost.
All the resort staff dealing with customers were equaly customer focused. For example, they offered coffee whilst waiting in a queue to collect ski passes. The personel dealing with lifts were equally keen to help, greating most skiers and some even handling the skis for us at the time of boarding cable cars.
On the slopes, restaurants and bars were equally customer friendly, with service always high on the agenda even if prices were always high and quality of food not necessarily reaching the same height. Waiters tended to be very personal, with none of them adopting the traditional French cold shoulder approach.
In Val d’Isere itself, all shops were very welcoming, and again leaving the question of price aside, at all time we were feeling welcome and well looking after. Typically many food counters would give you the option to taste the food before buying it, especially in the case of cheese and cured meats. Clothes shops were equally welcoming, creating an environment condusive to making a purchase.
These are some of the little things which made the whole travel experience a great one. The key thing to remember is that it is all the small things which made the difference, a collection of small but critical human touches which create a great customer service impression. Interestingly, when visiting a ski resort in Colorado a few years back we were very impressed by how much the whole set up was customer orientated. Having not been to Val d’Isere for a few years, it has become very clear that the customer service culture has now permeated almost every aspect of this French Alps resort as well.