Lessons in Customer Service: Holland America's Onboard Internet Service.

While on a Holland America  Cruise recently, I messaged my Facebook and Twitter friends that I was enjoying the “Techspert” classes that they had on-board.  Like a lot of Companies today, Holland America , is monitoring the Blogosphere and Tweetosphere and I heard back quickly that they “were happy I was enjoying myself”. My response was to tell them that although I was, I thought that their Internet charges ($100 for 250 minutes) were excessive in view of the poor service (back to the OLD dial-up days). Their response was “I’ll pass it on”.

Over the next weeks as complaints on-board grew and my Internet bill reached over $600.00, I again posted my thoughts and was told by the responder that they would “pass it on”. What does “pass it on” mean?

My suggestions to Holland America are:

  1. Don’t monitor the “spheres” unless you are prepared to deal with the good and the bad. It doesn’t ring true and Social Media expects transparency.
  2. Provide the best Internet service you can at non-usurious prices. Your clients want to communicate with their families telling them what a good time they are having and sending them the photos they have taken on the way. What would be better advertising for Holland America?  Word of mouth trumps corporate TV ads these days.
  3. Even though the demographic of “Cruisers” is tilted toward retirees, look at the growth potential in those who are still working and need good access to the Internet.
  4. “Value” cruises are no longer a value if you have more and more add-ons. Think of the market share that “Free Internet” would add.
  5. When surveying your customers on the services you provide, make sure you include all services. In the four page survey, Internet was not mentioned at all, nor was there free form space for other comments.
  6. Make sure that the person running the Internet Service on-board has “people skills”. However, that being said, the poor guy was dealing with complaints every minute, in a no-win situation.
  7. Closed circuit television presentations featuring the benefits of your On-Board Online Services, should be an honest representation of what you can deliver. Better to under-promise and over-perform.

Those are my suggestions for Holland America . Please note that it was a great Cruise in all other respects and the ship was filled with hardworking people. We hit some great destinations.  We’ll see in the future if “I’ll pass it on” has any currency. So far, no word.

If you are considering some travel and Internet, here are some tips from the New York Times.

8 Responses

  1. Cheryl Bower

    Hey, Richard. It is so weird; I was on http://www.Cruises.com this week because hubby is turning 50 and we thought of a cruise. Holland American sung to me because the cruise line has good reviews all around. Let me know where you went on your cruise and other than the internet fiasco, what your impression of it was. Also, what room would you recommend? We went on-line and for 1399 each, we appear to be able to get a suite. Not sure if there are upgrades from there???? Never cruised before. Hope you are well.

  2. Richard Silver Post author

    Hey Cheryl,

    Holland America was great value except for the Internet. We went to Antartcica and were onboard for almost 3 weeks. The food was great, we learned a lot and the ship was clean etc. Just the Internet was a real problem and caused a lot of grief for any of the customers…Cruises depend a lot on the locations they visit…have fun!

  3. LISA MIKI

    THANK YOU RICHARD IT IS WONDERFUL TO SEE ALL THE BEAUTIFUL PLACES THAT BENOIT AND YOUR FRIEND AND
    YOU SAW… THE PICTURES AND THE VIDEO ARE GREAT IT
    IS THE FIRST TIME TO SEE WHAT THE ANTARTIC LOOKS LIKE.. It is like being there.. They didn’t say anything about the internet before the trip..

  4. Jerry

    Found the three You Tube segments a really interesting kaleidoscope of your adventure. It only lacked some music! Cruising is a bit like buying a house and then discovering the closing costs!
    What camera were you using by the way?

  5. Teri Prince

    I was on the Holland America Veendam at the same time, and I too experienced internet service during the cruise that was inexpensive and unreliable. Since arriving home, I contacted Holland America and although they have “opened a case file”, and told me of their “concern” about customer service issues, to date, I have heard nothing from them. Truthfully, I do not expect to hear from them at all as I am still waiting for their response re the same complaint from May of 2008 from the Holland America lack Sea cruise.

  6. Jerry England

    Research of consumer complaints would indicate the problems you encountered will not be on their priority list for follow-up. I quote a recent HA customer who says “Holland America’s major ills are deceptive advertising, poor customer service and no product warranty. The company bills all of its tours as upscale, with fine food and entertainment. It calls itself “The Signature of Excellence.” Not. It is trying to appeal to two markets, prestige-upscale one hand and the cheapest common denominator on the other”.

  7. Richard Silver Post author

    That is so true. Some things onboard were great but other things are definitley falsley advertised…All of the Cruise Lines would do well to focus on their destinations, which is what Cruising should be all about…

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