Vantage Blog


Being truly accountable

I read in The Age this week a remarkable story of exceptional customer service. 

Qantas pilot Richard De Crespigny (of the QF32 fame) had another mid-air challenge just out of Dubai, on the way to London.  This time, thankfully, it was a little less life threatening - the refrigeration unit broke down, meaning no meals and, probably, warm drinks!  You can imagine how that went down on a near 8 hour flight. 

De Crespigny gave all the normal apologies you would hope for (and often don’t get) and offered food vouchers for passengers when they landed at Heathrow.  But the clincher was when he gave out his personal mobile number.  He invited anyone to call him if they didn’t get their meal, or were otherwise unhappy – and he would fix it!

Wow!  Talk about accountability.  In the airline world I have rarely heard so much as an apology when the inevitable plane delay occurs (I think they figure that things like weather disruption etc. are not in their control so they don’t need to apologise, just advise.  Of course that misses the test of seeing the experience from the perspective of customers, but I digress). 

What is remarkable here is that De Crespigny was personally willing to be held accountable for the TOTAL customer experience – something difficult to train for, and certainly impossible to mandate.  You would, however, love to capture such an attitude as core to your culture. 

Stuff happens, so how can you not only empathise with customers but have staff invest in a solution in a tangible, personal way.  It didn’t cost De Crespigny (or Qantas for that matter) anything in hard terms, but his actions, and the resulting goodwill (and in this case also PR) are immeasurable in value.

So what can you do to empower and inculcate such a can do attitude and level of accountability for customer satisfaction?

Are you measuring and championing the right behaviours?

Worth a debate at your next strategy planning day.

by James Atkins, Vantage Strategy & Marketing

This article is linked to James' Google+profile

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