The month of May provided two salient reminders of why the airlines aren’t exactly known for exemplary customer service. First, there was Spirit Airlines’ refusal to refund a ticket to a dying Vietnam veteran. The story went viral via thousands of Twitter and Facebook shares that lamented the carrier’s insensitivity. Just last week, the discord spread to YouTube when aUnited Airlines customer uploaded video of a ticket agent who willfully ignored every question he asked from the moment he approached the counter--until she asked security to escort him away.
With the advent of social media, every consumer with a smartphone and a gripe has been empowered with his or her own barrel of ink, so it’s no wonder that companies in every industry are going to great lengths to avoid embarrassing episodes such as these. But with so much emphasis on the don’ts of customer service, it’s easy for the dos to get lost in the shuffle. As a result, not enough attention is paid to the ways in which employees can enhance and enrich corporate brands that are comprised of much more than a logo, color scheme, and marketing strategy.
Customer interaction is when the brand becomes real. The brand promise is either enhanced or sacrificed by what a company’s employees do and say. Each customer interaction is not a task to complete or worse, an inconvenience; but the moment at which brands grow or begin to die.
Let’s return to the airlines. Tragically, there is little doubt that many of them have suffered labor discord. Much as they try to hide it, you can feel it as soon as you encounter an impatient flight attendant, a rude ticket agent, or a non-communicative pilot. By contrast, Southwest has mastered the concept that customers equal profit. The smiles, jokes, and even the posts shared on its wildly successful Nuts About Southwest blog all support a brand strategy rooted in whimsy, approachability, and warmth.
This carrier, which has enjoyed 40 consecutive years of profitability, understands that employee behavior is about more than the fundamentals of good customer service; it’s about living the brand and making the better choices that reflect what it stands for every day. The Southwest template isn’t easy to imitate, but there are three key strategies that can help every company’s employees better reflect its core values.
1. True brand ambassadors aren’t born, they are made. Read the complete article here.