On Friday night I happened to be sitting at Sydney airport on Friday reading Jaquie Scammells’ excellent book "Creating a Customer Service Mindset" when thunderstorms & lightning effectively shut the airport down. Flights weren’t landing, customers on those that had weren’t able to disembark and ground crews were restricted in their activities for safety reasons.
Naturally this created numerous delays and in some cases flight cancellations. There were a raft of airline announcements offering their apologies for Mother Nature and expressing the airlines uncertainty as it to when normal services would continue. Not ideal on a Friday night for Kiwis wanting to get home.
Some of the key themes from Jaquies book are that service is a human interaction and that a successful customer mindset stems from the top down. All levels of the business share ownership of the customer. Whilst the frontline staff may have the many of the day to day interactions, all staff are responsible for building the brand connection with the customer. How a customer feels about your brand depends on how a company’s employees make that customer feel – how the humans interact with them. To quote Jaquie “How a customer feels about an interaction is the most significant driver of customer loyalty.”
My flight was one of three Air New Zealand flights scheduled to depart from neighbouring gates. One of the flights captains had arrived at his gate similarly delayed. I’m sure there was a lounge to which he could have retreated to wait for the storm to abate. But he didn’t. That captain proceeded to work the departure lounge, moving around and speaking to groups of 20 or so passengers at a time updating them on what needed to happen once the storm moved on before the planes could be readied for their boarding. He personalised their situation and demonstrated his company, Air New Zealand, cared about them as customers.
How do you think those customers felt about Air New Zealand when they finally departed?
It was a fantastic demonstration of customer service & leadership from a senior member of staff. A great example of why, in this increasingly digital world, meaningful human interactions in customer service remain vital to growing your brand & building customer loyalty.
Written by Ian Cartwright, originally published on LinkedIn September 2018