We’re already halfway through the year and one encouraging trend in the region is the number of companies who are taking steps to improve customer experience. I wouldn’t say they are in the hundred, but very definitely in the tens. The numbers aren’t important, what matters is the emergence of a new intent.
Customer experience is not what your customer service centre delivers. Customer service centres exist to address failures in customer experience. If I have to visit another telemarketing centre I may let out a little scream. All those poor people lashed to their terminals, trying to address customers’ fundamental lack of understanding; disappointment and outrage. That’s no way to live; and it’s no way for a brand to act.
If we all hired the right people to deliver our brand promises; life would become a lot easier. Yes, they would need to be equipped and empowered, but that is the easy part. Finding people with the right attitude is the challenge. This is not about adding HR processes, but about making them on-brand; from attracting talent, interviewing, inducting, developing, and rewarding. In practice, talent management in our region is typically off-brand in the sense that it’s entirely generic.
Southwest Airlines, the leading US low cost carrier is often cited as a glorious example of getting the people dimension right. Before telling you about it, I checked out their annual reports for the last five years just to make sure this wasn’t a consultant’s confection. It isn’t.
Southwest decided on a very clear winning ambition*: to be the highest-profit airline in America by delivering the highest employee and customer satisfaction.
(* A winning ambition is like a Mission Statement, only more interesting).
So, they put employees first, because they know that human engagement is the primary differentiator in a service business. Their brand promise is simple – it’s cheap and cheerful. And while cheap differentiates them from flagship carriers, it does not differentiate them from other low-cost carriers such as Jet Blue. All their innovations around keeping prices low have been copied. But what has not been copied in an authentic way is the cheerfulness their people bring to the job. Continue reading