Monday March 12, 2012
By Stephen Yates, learnpurple associate
People know me well - show me a boarding pass to the business lounge and I will see you at the check in desk. Lucky for me, working long arduous hours abroad comes with a few perks; travelling business class or, when the opportunity arises, ‘turning left’.
Working in the service sector means we almost never switch off; we’re mystery guests 24 hours a day. For me, flying is the ultimate way in which to experience the five star treatment –good or bad - and it’s a great opportunity to feel what our own customers undergo, even if it is with our feet up on a flatbed at 30,000 feet.
Any of you who have experienced learnpurple’s service development know it too well – it’s those moments of truth and the moments of fame that make the difference between satisfactory service and five star service excellence and this principle applies just as much for the busy financial services call centre as it does for a luxury country house hotel.
Recently I was half-way between Dubai and Singapore, (I am quite happy to travel brag at this point) when, after a good slumber and gentle awakening , a friendly smile greeted me from a member of the cabin crew. “You were asleep, so I have placed the toiletry bags you asked for your godchildren at your feet” (I always like to get the freebies for my godchildren when being treated to this luxury, who wouldn’t when the wash bag is bursting with Bulgari?!) It was a moment of truth, and not just because the crew had remembered, it was the way it was carried out - appropriate, professional and full of feeling. Now that’s the difference I mentioned earlier.
So what makes that difference in a service environment? It’s having the awareness and intuition whilst adhering to the expected standards that makes for a smooth flight / transaction / enquiry and indeed creates loyalty. It’s allowing personality to shine through, yet delivering the promise that was sold to the customer when deciding between one product or service and another. It’s not about service manuals or standard operating procedures, it’s about how service excellence and memorable customer experiences can be created and delivered.
£3,000 will get you across the world in business class. How much does it cost to recruit, encourage and enable your team to deliver the behaviours associated with that price tag? It’s a personal service, from making your bed up at the right moment to bringing you breakfast at the right time before landing. For example, my urge to eat fruit at 3am wasn’t met with a pre cut bowl left in the galley., The response was “let me go and cut some fruit for you sir”. Now that’s a moment of fame on the airbus A380!
Airlines, when they get it right, set a standard we all should be aspiring to achieve. For attracting and retaining custom it is worth more than any marketing campaign or cabin refit and it is simple – professional personality.
So what three things should we, as businesses, be taking from the airlines and their cabin crew? I’d suggest:
Tune In – it’s about tuning into the customer and really noticing the small subtleties that create those moments for fame that is specific to each individual.
Professional personality – allowing individuals to shine, be themselves and create the personality you want your business to have
- Feel it – know what it’s like being in the customer’s shoes, have empathy for their experience and not just focus on the task as a check list exercise.
It’s nothing new, but the ability to stop, slow down and discover what it really feels like to be an individual interacting with your establishment really does makes all the difference in the world.
How do you check the customer experience within your organisation? Are your people empowered to deliver above and beyond?