Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Going the extra mile in Mile High City

A service company proves its worth when something goes wrong. If service is a commodity and similar across all competitors, it's not until a service failure that I know if I have chosen the right company.
If all cell phone providers give me coverage all over and do not mess up my billing then I happy to go with any one of the providers (and I will most likely go with the cheapest), but I will only know the value I get for my money when something goes wrong. Can I get a hold of a service representative when I need to; are they accommodating; do they fix problems as promised? This is the same for airlines.
When I fly I look at price, time, airport, etc. However, if all those parameters are nearly the same I am often impartial to one airline over the other. And 9 out of 10 times I get to my destination with no problem, but if something goes wrong I am sure I will discover the value of my purchase. For example, how you were treated during the ash-cloud disruption in Europe depends on your airline of choice: British Airways versus Ryanair gave different experiences.
I came across a great little story about a typical weather delay for 3 Southwest Airlines planes. A common story too. Bad weather over the destination requires some time hold, followed by a diversion. The planes have to sit for a few hours at their diversion, but the airline buys pizza and gives drinks to all the passengers. This is turning a bad situation into the best situation considering the circumstances. If only airlines gave their operational crews more authority to makes these kinds of decisions I think flying might be more bearable. Most people want to do kind things, and flight crews want to give good service, however company restrictions can sometimes limit this kind of service. I applaud companies and leaders that give their employees the freedom to act to meet customer expectations (within reason); if it is out of bounds of company policy then managers should use the case as a learning tool to explain what acceptable boundaries are. Delegating responsibility breeds responsibility.

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