Improve Your Customer Service Like the Airlines

Most of us would agree that, if we were to vote on one industry that businesses should not use as a model to emulate, the airline industry should be at or near the top of that list.

Airline customer service assistants

The airline industry is widely held up as a poster child for disappointing or infuriating customers in so many ways I don’t have time or space to list them.

Now the airline industry is at the end of the “summer travel season” and it looks like the powers that be are working hard to develop plans to improve their many customer service issues before their next peak travel period, Thanksgiving, rolls around. It is this effort to improve that I am writing about because every business can improve their customer service.

Instead of sitting back and accepting that fact that an overloaded system becomes overwhelmed every time there is a thunderstorm, they are working at adding capacity, developing options, and rethinking their processes.

The starting point of this effort is metrics, documenting and measuring the problems. How much baggage was misplaced at each airport? How many flights were overbooked? Where were flights delayed because planes waiting in line at filled gates?

After accumulating and hopefully understanding this data the effort becomes one of determining what can be done about each issue, who will be responsible for planning it, who will implement it to reduce delay, increase accuracy, and improve overall performance.

Every business has to deal with the same issues. Many times we do very little and just disappoint our customers. They defect to the competition and we never know why because few businesses gather the metrics and seek to understand the depth of the problem.

So I suggest that we all look at our customer service issues and start measuring them. Create metrics from the number of times a telephone rings before it is answered to the number of times a shipment is delayed. Start developing methods of reducing delay, increasing accuracy, and improving overall performance.

Maybe we’ll all learn something good from the airlines as they rush to improve before Thanksgiving. Me? I’m going enjoy my turkey at home in November.

About the Author

Larry Galler works with professionals, small-business owners, contractors, and entrepreneurs to increase sales and profits through better, more creative marketing and effective administration systems.

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