I’m on a flight to the far east and quite frankly what a thoroughly miserable experience, forget the fact that there is no room to even open my net book, which I specifically bought for its size and weight compared to a laptop. Forget the fact that the inconsiderate woman in front has her seat fully reclined so I can’t work and cant even watch a movie as the screen is about chest high and six inches below my nose. Forget about the noisy eating habits of the guy sat next door or the fact there was no choice of food by the time they got to us – not that a choice of bad and worse are great choices. The plane is crowded, uncomfortably warm and seemingly full of people with weak bladder syndrome who just can’t help barging into you as they stumble around the cabin. Forget all that, you just accept it for what it is no point in making yourself miserable, quite frankly life’s too short to worry about individuals you can’t influence. But the one thing that I really don’t get is the cabin crew, they set the tone, they create the experience, they are the deciding factor between average, remarkable or downright miserable. I’m watching them during the meal service and there are 6 of them, none of them are smiling, there is the cursory glance and nod. It’s all too much trouble for them, you can tell they are at work and going through the motions nothing more and nothing less; there is certainly no intention of delighting the customer here.
What is already a below average experience is made worse, and in these tough economic times with BA already hemorrhaging countless millions of pounds, you would have thought going back to the basics of improving their customer experience would be a top priority. If you compare this experience to flying Singapore or Korean airlines although they have a newer fleet of planes and greater comfort level on board the stand out thing the major point of difference is the cabin crew and their fantastic attitude and service. You would think you had been given a personal invite to their own house for dinner such is the level of service and attention to detail. With increasing globalization and Chinese influence We are soon going to have to get used to an Asia work ethic, longer hours for less pay, which will come as a shock to some but an even bigger shock will be the commitment to creating an outstanding customer experience. I can instantly think of numerous stand out individuals like Nancy from American airlines, John from Alamo car rentals or Jane from Bupa who gave me a remarkable customer experience, so much so that I remember them, their company and their story. The trouble is apart from the infrequent champions of true customer service we have lost sight of how important putting the customer first is and how good we feel about making someone else’s day a memorable one. Culturally we have lost the plot on customer service, when you go through the motions it is there for all to see and this inspires no one. Think about how you can inspire your print customers, how you can make it easier to do business with you? How you can make them love your brand and be a willing advocate. In a commodity market simple things that cost no money can make all the difference, give them something to talk about, get them to spread the word and market your business… this industry needs you to be remarkable, you owe it to yourself and your customers.
Neil Falconer – Print Tribe