2014-4-June-Austin-Handshake.jpgI fell in love with traveling when I ran away from home at the age of five. (You would have run, too, if you were forced to eat my sister's creamed chicken.)

Years later, when I made a trip across the United States in a 1975 VW Super Beetle, I fell in love with technology, too.

There's nothing like a car without air conditioning to prove that simplicity has its limits — and that innovation is essential. 

Travel is one of the few things I suspect I won't regret on my death bed, at least now that I drive a car with all-season climate control — as well as GPS navigation, Bluetooth connectivity and a 120-volt power outlet. (Did I mention it's also Internet ready?)

And here's the thing: You can learn a lot about customer experience by traveling, regardless of whether you go by car or air. 

Sun, Fun and Marketing Strategies

In the sprit of those school essays it seems we were eternally forced to write, I offer you a selection of things companies and brands — and the people who do their marketing — can learn on a summer vacation. Good service may be more important than you think. As Zendesk notes, when customers have a bad service experience, they don't just get mad. "Most of the time they try to get even."

A survey by ClickFox examined the repercussions of a bad customer service experience. It found 52 percent of disgruntled customers complain to family and friends, but a statistically significant 32 percent will just stop doing business with the company that wronged them. What's more, when customers complain on social media, more than 60 percent of consumers are swayed by those negative comments.

Companies and brands "should view every interaction as an opportunity to increase satisfaction, build loyalty, and grow revenue.," ClickFox suggests.

Just today, cloud contact center vendor NewVoiceMedia released new data that shows 73 percent of UK consumers are standing up for customer service standards more than they were ten years ago. About 57 percent of Brits will give a business feedback to let it know about poor performance and 37 percent feel will complain on social media

More importantly, the study found half of UK consumers take their business elsewhere as a result of inadequate service, costing companies about £12 billion (USD $20.12 billion) a year.

Honor commitments:  Ever walk into a hotel late at night — only to discover the front desk has given away your room? Few things are more damaging to a brand than the failure to provide a contracted service. If I prepay for a room, and miss the deadline to cancel, the room is mine — whether or not I use it. You have no right to double dip by selling it to another customer.

Be clear: I've given American Express nearly $9,000 in annual fees over the past 20 years for the privilege of carrying a Platinum charge card.  And until very recently, I felt it was a worthwhile investment, considering the purchase protection, rewards and other benefits that come with the card. So imagine my distress when I discovered Amex quietly changed the terms and conditions for the use of the Delta Sky Club — and now expects me to pay $29 each to bring my spouse and minor children into the airport club. With paperless billing now the norm, companies have to take extra steps to make sure customers are aware of major changes. Customers who manage their accounts online will not necessarily open or read that update you send in the mail.