Some funny things happened to me and my husband on the way to Denver and Hualtuco, Mexico. You won’t believe it, we experienced great customer service. Now you have to know that I, like many who are heading to an airport, have service, usually lack of, as top of mind.
Did we experience any delays? Yes, and during the two hours we waited we were treated to a free lunch. We didn’t ask for it and we weren’t complaining. In fact we weren’t even aware of the free lunch; the woman behind the food stand clued us in. And the stipend was for more than we could eat.
That’s not all. When using the automatic check-in at Denver, the machine said we would need an agent to continue. My passport has an amendment and it always confuses the machines. The woman who came over was very pleasant and took care of the matter quickly. This was a far better than most of my travel experiences.
Again, that’s not all. She took the time to look through our flight itinerary. Then she said we really should sit closer to the front with such little time before our connecting flight. Instead of just making the change, she said, “Here I’ll show you how to do it.” She was taking the time to educate us so future experiences could be better as well.
The extra time this agent took served us well, but will also serve the airline well. After all, good customer service comes down to training, of the employee and the customer.
Frances X. Frei writes about this in the April edition of the Harvard Business Review: “Customer involvement in operations has profound implications for management because it alters the traditional role of the business in value creation.”
Frei, in fact, uses the airlines as an example of an industry that is getting it right. For airlines simplified the check-in process to allow customers to take on this part of service.
He goes on to talk about managing customer behavior to get the desired results, better, more efficient service. The value for the customer is better service, and for the company, it could mean increased business for lower costs.
When it comes to business, the customer should always play an active role. Basic marketing requires it. One of the companies I worked for wanted all employees to be talking to the customer. We were to ask such questions as:
n Why do you do business with us?
n What would you like us to do that we are not currently doing?
n What is someone else (competitors) doing that you like, that we are not doing?
n Overall, how are we doing? Is there any one thing we could do better for you?
Answers to questions such as these allow for product refinement and innovation, as well as improving service deficiencies. They should be considered part of the baseline of customer operations.
So have you talked to your customers today?