Wednesday, April 12, 2017

For the Customer's Sake, Get out of Your Own Way

By now, everyone has heard about the horrendous treatment of the United Airlines passenger. The reason for this unfortunate incident is simple.  United penalized their customer!  Overbooking flights, and expecting passengers to reschedule their trip is absurd.  Yet, it is standard practice in the industry. Even worse, the passengers were given the boot to make room for United employees. C'mon man!

To say United failed to properly resolve the matter is a huge understatement.  Sadly, this was destined to occur.  At no point does it seem anyone within the company made a decision that was customer focused. The practice of overbooking, and removing customers is an executive decision.  If this is what leadership thinks of customer experience... I'll leave that alone! The attendants are simply following company policy.  However, this doesn't absolve them. They could have been more empathetic. But let me be clear, this is not their burden to bare alone.

Per the CEO, "This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United. I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers." According to United, 're-accommodation' of passengers is based on criteria such as fare type and check in time. Yet another misstep!

This leads to me wonder why an apology was offered. United is aware this practice upsets customers but, they aren't willing to change it. No apology can make up for this!

The takeaways here are simple:
  1. A customer centric mindset when creating internal policies 
  2. Determine the impact policies and processes have on customer experience 
  3. Review often, and revise as needed 
  4. Empower front-line staff to make real-time decisions 
  5. Encourage employees to advocate on behalf of the customer
In this matter, the words of Kerry Stokes ring true. "The most important adage and the only adage is, the customer comes first, whatever the business, the customer comes first."

Currently the Director, Contact Center and Customer Service at Framework Homeownership, I have over 15 years of progressive call center leadership and experience in the public, private and government sectors.

I have led or consulted contact centers of various sizes across numerous industries and environments including sales, BPO, and SaaS to name a few. Additionally, I’ve implemented new technology and products, while maintaining award-winning contact centers.

Connect with me on
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