Southwest Airlines halted all their operations this past Tuesday morning, citing “intermittent technology issues.” By 1 PM/Eastern, 43% of the airline’s schedule was delayed.
The airline released a statement saying that an issue with a “vendor-supplied” firewall (I’d hate to be that vendor) caused data connection problems within its operations teams. An internal message seen by the frequent traveler website, The Points Guy, noted several computer systems that had lost connectivity.
Any and every business will have IT problems at some point – ranging from what Southwest experienced this week to a solopreneur uncertain of how to run a credit card. And, following their holiday debacle over the old scheduling technology that Southwest was using, “Southwest executives have said that they were accelerating plans to modernize the airline’s systems and doubling down on investments in new infrastructure improvements,” according to The Points Guy.
They had better be doing that. Because as I state in my forthcoming book, “The Ultimate Customer Experience,” the first level of customer interaction is “Processing.” In other words, there are some aspects that are non-negotiable from the customer’s point of view. If you fail to deliver at this first level, none of your other activities to drive customer retention will succeed.
Customers do not want us to “make it right.”
Customers want us to “GET it right!”
For Southwest, keeping the planes moving safely and on time is part of the deal. Certainly, there will be issues out of your command, but passengers understand those. Wednesday afternoon, my friend, Mark Sanborn, was delayed for several hours on his United flight to Denver. He wasn’t upset at United – the delay was because of an ice storm at their destination. However, if I’m on the tarmac and can’t take off because of a software issue – or another aspect, such as crew scheduling, that I perceive to be under your control – now I become an upset and dissatisfied customer.
The primary question is, “What do we have to get EXACTLY right…every time…for every customer?” Another that my new book encourages you to ask is: “What do our customers have a RIGHT TO EXPECT from us every time they do business with us?”
Have you had a conversation with your team about those questions? One study indicated only 16% of businesses even HAVE THE LIST of what customers have a right to expect!
- You cannot expect your team to deliver what your customers have a right to expect…if you have failed to identify and train your employees to deliver on those expectations.
My research and experience have identified five steps you must make certain every employee knows and executes as he or she interacts with your customers. This is the first one – “Don’t make it right; GET it right.”
However, if the employee doesn’t know what “getting it right” means – or if they haven’t been trained properly or exposed to what an Ultimate Customer Experience® is – you have no right to expect them to deliver it for your organization.
Start with this first step: Make a list of what every customer has a right to expect from you every time they interact with your organization.
(Want to be certain every member of your team knows the five steps to an Ultimate Customer Experience? We have special offers for bulk purchases of the forthcoming book –some even include a virtual presentation from me to kick off your UCX efforts! Contact us for details.)