On a recent short business trip to start a brand assessment for a client, 2 heads found themselves sitting at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on a major airline carrier when the captain came over the intercom and made a brief announcement. Their maintenance crew was on-board fixing some minor issue and that we would be delayed for a brief few minutes. The captain in his announcement made it clear, siding with us the passengers, that he did not know why they waited until now to repair such a minor problem! Certainly the maintenance folks on board at the time could hear what was being said!
After a few minutes, the captain made the announcement that all was repaired and that we would be on our way shortly. However we needed to wait on the maintenance crew to complete all necessary paperwork!
After a couple minutes, the captain keys the intercom once again to make an announcement that not everything was completed with the repair and maintenance is waiting on parts. We would be on our way as soon as those parts were here. Those dang maintenance folks!
This major airline company spends millions every month on brand initiatives to tout its customer service. The captain was customer focused, after all he felt the passengers (customers) pain, right? How about the maintenance crew, how did they feel as the captain shared with all the passengers that it was their fault, while doing their professional job of repair, that we all were being delayed.
Could it be possible that the maintenance crew went back to their department and shared with the rest of the team how the pilot ridiculed the department to all the passengers? Was this maintenance team brand champions with a target of zero defects, dedication to customer safety and cheering their airline to prosperity because in a very competitive marketplace their airline employed the best people who work as a team.
With a couple innocent jabs 2 heads along with the other passengers on that plane that day, took away from a customer touch point a building-block perception that there is a little less “team” in the brand than advertised. Is it a big deal? What about the maintenance crew, who possibly had a “lets bust our butts for the team” attitude. Is this what the CEO had in mind when approving the major investment in promoting customer service?
2 heads wonder how they, and we are sure the other passengers on the plane, would have perceived that touch point if the captain had told us that maintenance, in its preflight check, had detected a problem that should be addressed before departure. “We regret that we will delay departure by 30 minutes, but safety always comes first here. Our maintenance crew is the best in the business. Everyone in the industry knows that they’ll do everything they can to get us on our way quickly. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.”
Every touch point is important. Every employee makes a difference. Sure, you can’t control what every employee does every minute. But you can drive strategic brand thinking deeper and deeper into the organization so that individuals make better decisions because they understand their behavior affects customer perceptions that impact profitability and, ultimately, their jobs. Simply, it is how great brands, and great companies are built.