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Saturday, November 14, 2009

My Mistake, Your Problem.

What is an airline to do when someone ruins their experice for them.

The flight my spouse came home on was early, and I was late to the airport to pick up my exasperated wife and our beyond-tired 8 month-old. Reliability is equal parts precision and accuracy – it’s consistently doing what you say you are going to do. An early flight can be as bad as a late one.

I didn’t check the flight status from my smartphone, relying instead on an web update before after I had left the house for the day.

As part of my familial service recovery, I investigated what my actual options would be for future cases.

Of course, I can ask for flight status via the web, cell, PDA. These methods are all passive, as though the airlines are saying, “We’ll tell you if our flights are running late, but only if you ask us.”

I also could have subscribed to travel alerts. Or rather, my wife could have…well in advance.

With Northwest, you can subscribe to receive texts & emails of flight schedule changes as they happen. The downside is that you have to be a loyalty program member. You can then adjust your account settings to receive updates on your flights, and you can include someone else in your profile to receive them as well. (of course, I did not tell my wife it was her fault for not being a Skymiles member and not having signed me up to receive updates)

Here’s where holistic mapping of the experience would help.

I wasn’t either the paying customer or the service provider, but I had an impact on the experience. The service outcome was a failure, but the actions of a complete outsider to the encounter caused the negative reflection on the performance of the airline.

When looking at the service moments-of-truth where satisfaction or dissatisfaction occur, you often have to look beyond where your part in the service provision starts and ends. Include the actions of customers - and sometimes people not directly involved in the service at all - that need to use the product of your service to dowork of their own.


Barry Dalton said...

points to how complex the customer satisfaction equation can be. Strategic planning and consideration needs to stretch way beyond the actual moment of truth. If your organization is partnering with other companies to deliver components of the value chain, you're reputation is on the hook for how those partners execute. Great point, Chris!

Russ said...

Hi Chris,

Something very much to think about as we, apparently, head towards "business partner ecosystems"(or similar buzzphrase) in the hyper-collaborative, frictionless Web 2.0+ world.

The Service Experience could be as strong as its weakest link(I want to say "is" but won't go that far). Many companies have a hard enough time keeping tabs on their own experience chains, let alone how other chains integrate and support their own. You may be "partners" with some degree of shared vision but you also have competing priorities, resource constraints, ability to execute, values, etc. And you think internal silos are a challenge? Ha! We've been fighting that battle forever and now we're bringing silos of silos together. Whew.

It's not plug-and-play. And don't take it at face value. Think through the entire chain(web/network).

Great thoughts, Chris and Barry.

Seattle, WA

Chris Reaburn said...

Great comments, Barry & Russ. I love where you took this.

Agreed, the service delivery equation is complex enough when it's contained within a company's "own four walls".

Adding the complexity of upstream and downstream activities impacting the service may be more than businesses still focused on the basics are ready for.

Unfortunately, with the rate of experience integration, I don't know that we will have a choice.