By Jim Murphy, CEO, Aviation Division
Traveling can be a stressful experience. Delays, gate changes, and issues with baggage or check-in can leave passengers feeling anxious and stressed. Although airlines can’t control some of these predicaments, they do have the ability to ease tension by providing excellent customer service. Extending excellence in service is the foundation for providing a quality experience for travelers from the time they check in to the time they board the aircraft. With so many carriers outsourcing their passenger services, it’s critical to choose a partner who holds customer service as a high priority.
Outsourcing isn’t transparent to the traveling public, who naturally associate the faces they meet with the air carrier, so the initial experience a passenger receives—whether it’s good or bad—is immediately cast upon the carrier. It’s the responsibility of the company providing the services for the airline to manage the process effectively to ensure the customer walks away satisfied with their transaction, so they become a repeat customer. In the world of air travel, a dissatisfied customer generally does not return, and that is an unfortunate position to be in as a provider of airline services.
Choose Partners that Screen Candidates Carefully
The first step in the process is to partner with a support service provider that is focused on hiring customer-friendly people. Ensure the prospective partner carefully screens those they bring into customer-facing positions, and that they guarantee the employees they hire have the skills to handle even the most trying of circumstances. While not all interactions are tense, it’s those few difficult situations that define the customer’s perception of the airline. Everyone has a bad day every once in awhile, and not all people are easy to please, but if the interactions with those individuals are handled properly and fairly, the customer can walk away feeling that every effort was made to accommodate their needs. When that happens, the transaction is successful.
Review Customer Service Training Procedures
Technical training, hands-on experience, coaching, and on-going support are all important factors in maintaining a quality workforce, but most important is creating a healthy service culture. A service culture is one in which the employee feels a certain empathy for the customer, not just a responsibility to go through the motions. When someone demonstrates true compassion for the customer’s situation, and handles it accordingly, the customer appreciates the representative’s effort, even if the outcome was not exactly what they were hoping. To that point, look for a support service partner that takes customer service and hospitality training seriously, and that works to ensure their employees are adhering to the standards put forth by your organization.
Evaluate the Support Service Company’s Leadership
Culture within an organization is a top-down paradigm. In other words, the success of an organization at the customer level has to begin with the executive level. When the executives display a desire to be of service, that becomes the norm within that organization. The leadership in the organization plays a huge role in setting the tone of the organization. Those who display servant leader qualities have the most successful operations. When evaluating request for proposals, really question the customer service and culture of the executive team and how their actions will either compromise or enhance your partnership.
Customers can always tell when an employee enjoys their job. That’s why it’s important to have individuals who truly represent a customer service focused work ethic and exhibit the company’s brand and mission in every interaction. It’s not just about hiring to fill positions, it is about guaranteeing the people in customer-facing roles are equipped to handle any situation and make every transaction pleasant. That’s what creates a positive experience for travelers, and results in repeat customers for the organization.
Jim Murphy joined HHS as Chief Executive Officer of the Aviation Division. Jim is an airline industry veteran with over 30 years of progressive experience in airline management. Jim has extensive experience in project management and new operation startups, a successful history of meeting and exceeding customer expectations, and has a passion for delivering the best service in the industry. Jim earned his Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Lindenwood University.