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Earn and Re-Earn Your Customers' Loyalty


by Bryan K. Williams, D.M.
December 12, 2011

When I am traveling in the U.S., my favorite airline is Southwest Airlines. It is very obvious to me that they understand that customer service is more than just a public relations statement. For example, they give you the option of having a customer service phone representative call you back instead of waiting on hold for a long time. Just recently, I had two business trips that required me to seek out other airlines because Southwest did not provide flights to those cities. So I flew on two different airlines, and both failed…miserably. Not only did they not earn my interest to fly with them again, but they actually did things to effectively “turn me off”. The purpose of this article, however, is not to bash those two airlines, but rather to re-focus how certain missed opportunities could have turned into WOW moments, thus repeat business.
 
Let’s start with the first airline. Keep in mind that it may have been the second time that I’ve flown with them in the last six or seven years. I was on a flight from Baltimore to Chicago and just before the plane door closed, I noticed that over half of the seats were empty. I was in a row with one other passenger, so I decided to move to one of the several empty rows. That way, I could spread out and have ample space to write, read, use my laptop, etc. As I was moving to the adjacent empty row, I heard someone, from a distance, say “No, no, no!” I looked up to see that it was a flight attendant who was speaking to me…plus she was waving her index finger from side to side for added effect. “You have to return to you seat sir!” So, of course, I returned to my seat a bit embarrassed, confused, and annoyed all at the same time. To her credit, she did come to me afterwards to explain why she turned me away from the empty seat.
 
“Those seats you were going to are premium seats. They have more legroom and there’s a charge to sit there.” Then she walked away. Ok. I’m sure that she didn’t make up that rule or create the flight seat inventory system that allocates “premium seats”, but the delivery of the message could have been done more respectfully versus the manner she chose.
 
On a deeper level, however, why couldn’t the airline simply empower their flight attendants to invite passengers to open seats once it has been determined that no more passengers are coming onboard. Hey, maybe I would have fallen in love with the extra leg room and told other people about the great seats that the airline has. Or better yet, before I even boarded the plane, the gate agents could have proactively moved passengers to the premium seats once it was clear that those seats would be available. Imagine how impressed passengers would be if the gate agent told some of the fortunate passengers that they were being “upgraded” since there was more than enough room of the flight. Such a gesture would have been worth more than any television or newspaper ad. Customers can always tell when an organization is relationship-driven versus revenue-driven. It was clear that the airline was purely focused on revenue.
 
On the first leg of another flight, the entire staff seemed like they hated their jobs. Everyone, from the gate agents, to the flight attendants had no smile and barely gave customers any eye contact. When traveling with my baby daughter, I usually check her stroller at the gate versus checking it in as luggage. Since the stroller bag is very large, it,   can easily be mistaken for checked luggage by the plane’s baggage handlers. So to avoid the potential confusion, I asked the gate attendant for two bag tags versus the customary one tag that is given. That way, the stroller bag could be easier to identify. The gate agent proceeded to roll her eyes at me, mumbled something under her breath and put the two tags on the desk for me to take. Wow.
 
That same episode could have been re-mixed to get a vastly different outcome. After explaining my situation and asking for the extra bag ticket, the attendant could have:
  1. Listened attentively
  2. Empathized with the situation (or at least pretended to do so)
  3. Given me the tags (or even offered to put them on for me)
  4. Wished me a great flight and stated that she hoped that there would be no confusion with my stroller bag during the trip
So there you have it. Two airlines…two missed opportunities to earn my loyalty. It really is a shame, because those airlines, like so many other companies, will look at their financial statements, then notice that revenue and profit are both down. Inevitably, the next steps will usually include a mixture of more advertising , raising prices, laying off staff and charging for things that were previously complimentary.
 
Instead, companies can win more business by simply re-focusing on the customers’ experience. Train and communicate to all staff that the team’s mission is to earn the customers’ loyalty every day at each touchpoint. Remove restrictions and empower your team to do everything possible to WOW their customers.
 
Get with your team and brainstorm various scenarios and how deposits could be made. In short, wow your customers, cherish your customers and honor your customers. They have a choice and you can’t take for granted or assume that they will choose you. Adopt an attitude of re-earning  your customers’ loyalty everyday. Your team will be happier, your customers will be happier, and your company will be happier too.
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B.Williams Enterprise Updates
 
* Bryan's new book is now available! Work Like You Own It: 20 Ways to Go From Meeting to Exceeding Your Customers' Expectations.

* Be sure to read our new “Interview with a Service Superstar”. This new entry features an exceptional employee from BodiScience Holistic Day Spa in Massachusetts.

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"Bryan Williams does not just inspire world-class service, he is the embodiment of it. His experience has given him the unique insight into what it takes to be a leader in the business of service others by creating memorable experiences for the most discerning guests, beyond their expectations. Bryan engages with staff in a genuinely warm, caring way, to re-energize them to push their own boundaries and be the best they can be. The result is both higher guest AND staff satisfaction. That is his edge, and it is invaluable in differentiating five-star service from world-class experiences."

     --Charles DeFoucault, Ayana Resort & Spa Bali (General Manager)


About the Author
Dr. Bryan K. Williams is the Chief Service Officer of B.Williams Enterprise, and the author of Engaging Service: 22 Ways to Become a Service Superstar and Work Like You Own It! 20 Ways to Go From Meeting to Exceeding Your Customers’ Expectations. Bryan’s passion is world-class customer service, and has facilitated workshops and delivered keynotes all over the world for various companies.  He speaks on a variety of topics related to service excellence, employee engagement, and organizational improvement.  As a consultant, Bryan works closely with companies to design, develop, and implement sustainable service strategies. His company’s online store includes a growing collection of customer service products that are well-suited for your training library.

Find more resources relating to service excellence at www.bwenterprise.net.

Also on the website, you can subscribe to the official B.Williams Enterprise emailing list.  You will receive announcements, newsletters and other excellent resources.

-We exist to serve others so they may better serve the world ®.-

Both of Bryan’s books can be purchased at http://shop.bwenterprise.net/ 

 


Contact:

B. Williams Enterprise, LLC 
Website: www.bwenterprise.net
Email:  info@bwenterprise.net 
Phone: 240-401-6958 

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Also See: Honor Your Customers / Bryan K. Williams, D.M. / October 2011

Work Like You Own It! 20 Ways to Go From Meeting to Exceeding Your Customers' Expectations: New Book by Dr. Bryan K. Williams / October 2011

Service Excellence 101: Be Welcoming / Dr. Bryan K. Williams, DM / September 2011

The Three Ingredients of Engaging Service: Humility, Reverence & Professionalism / Dr. Bryan K. Williams, DM / August 2011

Service Excellence: The MOST Important Thing To Create a Service Culture! / Dr. Bryan K. Williams, DM / July 2011

Service Excellence 101: How to Serve a VIP / Dr. Bryan K. Williams, DM / June 2011

The 1st Step of Service: Be Eager to Serve / Dr. Bryan K. Williams, DM / May 2011

World-Class Service: The Double-Platinum Rule 2.0 / Dr. Bryan K. Williams, DM / April 2011

Customer Problem Resolution: The 100% Principle / Dr. Bryan K. Williams, DM / March 2011

World-Class Service 102: Be memorable / Dr. Bryan K. Williams, DM / February 2011

Take your service to the next level: Only BIG WOW’s…No bow-wow’s / Dr. Bryan K. Williams, DM / February 2011

Service Excellence: Inspect What You Expect / Bryan K. Williams, D.M. / November 2010

Work Like You Own It 2.0; Energize it. Recognize it. Celebrate it. / Bryan K. Williams, D.M. / September 2010

World-Class Service 101: Know the difference between meeting and exceeding expectations / Dr. Bryan K. Williams / July 2010

Service Superstars Part 2: Treat them like they own it! / Dr. Bryan K. Williams / June 2010

Make each touchpoint memorable: Cha-Ching! / Dr. Bryan K. Williams / April 2010

Service Superstars: Work like you own it! / Bryan Williams / February 2010

Complimentary resources from Bryan K. Williams and B.Williams Enterprise! Begin 2010 with a focus on world-class service. / January 2010

Service Ambassadors: The Key to Providing World-Class Service / Bryan K. Williams / November 2009

5-Star Employees - Part 3 / Bryan K. Williams / September 2009

5-Star Employees - Part 2 / Bryan K. Williams / August 2009

5-Star Employees - Part 1/ Bryan K. Williams / July 2009

Engaging Service: 22 Ways to Become a Service Superstar / Bryan K. Williams / July 2009

Complimentary tele-seminars with Bryan K. Williams in July! / July 2009

Building a Team of Living It Employees / Bryan K. Williams / June 2009

World-Class Service: What if every employee served like a concierge? / Byran K Williams / March 2009

5 Star Leadership: What Does It Take to Be a 5-star Leader? / Byran Williams / February 2009

5 Stars vs. 4 Stars: What’s the Difference? / Byran Williams / January 2009

Complimentary training with Bryan Williams / January 2009

The 7 Principles of EngageMeTM is now available! / Bryan K. Williams / November 2008

Hiring and Engaging a World-Class Team / Bryan K. Williams / October 2008

Great Ideas for National Customer Service Week 2008 / Bryan K. Williams / September 2008

Delivering World-Class Service Part 3: Company Service Standards / Bryan K. Williams / September 2008

Delivering World-Class Service Pt. 2: Personal Service Standards / Bryan K. Williams / September 2008

Delivering World-Class Service: Function vs. Purpose / Bryan K. Williams / August 2008

Guest Problem Resolution 101: Power of the Follow-Up / Bryan K. Williams / June 2008

7 Principles to Fully Engage Your Customers – Part 2 / Bryan K. Williams / May 2008

7 Principles to Fully Engage Your Customers / Bryan K. Williams / April 2008

I Am a Service Professional™ / Bryan K. Williams / March 2008

Engage Every Customer…One Touchpoint at a Time / Bryan K. Williams / January 2008

Engaging Service Part 2: It’s All About the Culture / Bryan K. Williams / December 2007

Engaging Service Part 1: Not Just for the Chic / Bryan K. Williams / November 2007

Service Excellence: A Destination or a Journey? / Bryan K. Williams / October 2007

National Customer Service Week is Coming Soon - October 1-5, 2007 / September 2007

National Customer Service Week is Coming Soon - October 1-5, 2007 / September 2007

Engage Me…the Voice of Your Customer www.engagemenow.com / September 2007

Customer Engagement: Where do we begin? / Byran K Williams / August 2007

Engage Me…the Voice of Your Customer / www.engagemenow.com / August 2007

B. Williams Enterprise, LLC Launches Engage Me…  the Voice of Your Customer / August 2007

To Engage…Listen to the Voice of Your Customer / Byran K Williams / August 2007

To Engage the Guest, You Must Engage Those Who Directly Serve the Guest / Byran K Williams / July 2007

Three Service Rules: The Golden Rule, Platinum Rule, and Double Platinum Rule/ Byran K Williams / June 2007

The Greatest Bellman I Ever Met… / Bryan K. Williams / April 2006

Sorry to Say…But Some People Should Not be Serving Other Human Beings / Bryan K Williams / October 2006
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