Do Your Customers Think You Really Care?

Do you travel very often? If you do, you have probably experienced the amazing customer service of the largest airlines–Delta, United, US Air and American. What? You weren’t thrilled with the service? Didn’t enjoy handing over extra moola for the bag fees? Hard to believe! Ha!

As a frequent traveler myself, I am always amazed at how the majority of airlines treat passengers like an inconvenience. Silly me! I actually thought that we were the ones that generated their revenue! I have read a boat load of blogs and articles lately about how poor the customer service is–in fact one blogger suggested that airline policies seem designed to insult, rather than cater to, even their best most loyal customers.

An article in The Kansas City Star in September 2011 referred to the American Customer Satisfaction Index numbers of the ten worst performing companies. Any surprise that 5 airlines were listed? The four mentioned above and Continental.

No one said being a flight attendant is easy. Yet, to many travelers they seem surly and indifferent. No doubt they have had bad experiences with passengers. They may even feel that the airlines put them in difficult situations without adequate solutions. They may well be entitled to be upset with their employer and a few of the passengers. But as The Star pointed out, there is no reason to forget manners. I once experienced a flight attendant so rude that the passenger in front of me complained to the airline on my behalf as he was so offended by her behavior since he heard every word!

Fortunately, your business has better customer service than the airlines. Yet that bar isn’t all that high. How do your employees behave when you are not there? What happens if they are mad about a low raise or missed bonus? Or maybe they had a fight at home before coming to work. How do you know what your customers think about the customer service your employees give day in and day out?

Chances are if you have regular relationships with customers, one bad day or experience won’t taint the whole thing. But if your business depends on each customer interface for its reputation and revenue, then you may need to be sure how each and every transaction is perceived. Do you pay attention to what customers say? Do you track their experiences on a regular basis? Do you put yourselves in their shoes and understand their point of view? You may know how its supposed to work better than customers do and their expectations may not be what they should be? But is that their fault? Or is it possible they were encouraged to expect perfection? That the ads, the sales promises and the hope created expectations  that the experience was to be better than good–maybe downright great! Is it the customers’ fault when they’re not?

Airlines have policies that make it clear they are rarely at fault and limit their liability if they are. Fly at your own risk, essentially. What is the reputation of your business? Buyer beware? Or are you their trusted advisor, answer to their challenges and better than everyone else? Really? How do you know? Do your customers REALLY think you care?


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