There are times when complaints come into PADI that are more about customer service issues than clear violations of PADI Standards. The PADI Quality Management team won’t tell PADI Members how to run their businesses but will get involved when a member’s practices fall within the parameters of PADI Standards, including those found in the PADI Member Code of Practice (found in the first section of your PADI Instructor Manual).
Here’s a review of a few common customer service complaints, along with tips to help you avoid disappointing your customers and hearing from the Quality Management team:
- Customers express concern and frustration when planned dives are changed at the last minute to very different sites than those initially advertised. For example, the dive was scheduled for a shallow reef, but en route the boat captain tells customers they’re going to a deep site with more challenging conditions because one buddy team, or worse, a crew member, requested it.
In the Member Code of Practice, you are required to comply with the intent of safe diving practices, consider individual comfort levels and err on the side of safety. Divers who are prepared and comfortable doing a shallow reef dive may not be ready for a deep, challenging dive. If you must change sites, make an effort to choose alternate sites with dive profiles and features similar to the initially planned dives.
- Another common complaint from student and certified divers alike is concern about rental equipment provided to them. For example, divers describe ill-fitting BCDs, wetsuits that are either too small or too large or a leaky alternate air source.
PADI Members have an obligation to put diver safety first. Providing a student diver or novice with ill-fitting equipment, or worse, equipment that isn’t functioning properly is inconsistent with this obligation.
Proper equipment maintenance is paramount to diver safety, customer satisfaction and risk management. Enhance your customer service by asking customers if they’re familiar with and comfortable using the provided equipment. Showing your concern for the diver’s safety and enjoyment is both prudent and good business practice.
- Customer refunds are a common customer service issue. For example, a customer complains that a “three-week” Rescue Diver course is only partially complete after three months due to continuous rescheduling on the instructor’s part. The customer asks for a referral and the instructor refuses without explanation.
Remember that PADI Standards require you to issue a referral if the student diver completed at least one segment of the course and has met agreed-upon financial arrangements.
The best way to avoid customer service and quality management issues is to apply good judgment when providing dive services and to be diligent about maintaining professional business practices.