August 5, 2015 – After months of deliberation, I’ve come to the following conclusion: Universal’s customer service has declined.
Make no mistake; I say this with no joy or fanfare. Indeed, it was only last year that we touted Universal’s internal push to improve their customer service with complementary packets of candy during ride breakdowns and new changes aimed at increasing positive contact between team members and guests. And while ride attendants are still handing out Jelly Bellys to inconvenienced guests, the remainder of that internal initiative seems to have fallen by the wayside.
Now, instead of positive interactions, many guests are regularly subjected to convoluted food service, inattentive parking attendants, stressful streetmosphere, and team members haggling over conflicting information.
This is unfortunate.
While Universal is admittedly undergoing its largest transformation to date (and dealing with the stresses associated with growing pains), none of this should serve as an excuse for poor customer service. The guest is paying for a great experience, and they shouldn’t concern themselves with what happens behind the scenes. I know I don’t, and quite frankly, I run a fansite devoted to bringing fans the latest news and information surrounding the park.
I don’t exactly know when the atmosphere of the park began to sour, but I do know it’s become a systemic issue that permeates through all levels of guest-team member interaction. With the exception of most attractions and their respective operations team, the list of negative interactions that I’ve heard from readers, friends and family are too numerous to list (though if you’re looking for some examples, you can listen to a recent podcast). This is what makes this entire situation so disconcerting.
Now, while it may be easy to place the entirety of blame on team members that handle the front line, I believe the issue lies further above the chain of command. Quite simply, I’ve heard enough chatter to believe that team members feel overwhelmed and unprepared to handle the growing influx of crowds. Perhaps more alarmingly, management seems to place the bulk of their anxieties and angst on the frontline staff, which, in turn, transfers this negative energy onto everyday guests.
That being said, I will be the first one to admit that I don’t have a complete understanding of what happens behind the scenes, and there may be extenuating circumstances that uncontrollably intersect to create this tense atmosphere in the park. On a personal level, I will also have to profess that visiting the Disneyland Resort more frequently these last few months may have also elevated my perception of good customer service. However, be that as it may, Universal is also charting on new ground that puts it in direct competition with its neighbor down south. So while I’m ultimately happy for the park’s recent additions, Universal’s poor service makes me a reluctant repeat visitor.
In the end, it’s what the average guest thinks. Have you had good or bad customer service at Universal lately? Please chime in using the comment section below.
Jon Fu is the editor-in-chief of Inside Universal.
Jon originally founded InsideUniversal.net in 2006 as a summer hobby aimed at providing families and fans a resource for all things “Universal Studios Hollywood.” Since then, the website has taken him throughout the United States and around the world – including to places like Universal Orlando Resort, Universal Studios Japan and Universal Studios Singapore.
Jon currently resides in Santa Cruz, California. You may reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.