I’ve always held that leadership is something that everyone, at any level of the organization, is responsible for. It is not something that is only the purview of those occupying management positions. On a recent late running flight I had this amply demonstrated. Through the leadership of the whole crew, and in particular of one engaging and engaged, and doggedly determined flight attendant, a negative customer experience was completely turned around.
My spouse and I were heading to Maui for a much anticipated vacation. It had been a busy, hectic time for us both and we needed the break. Our mid evening flight had now become a red eye. Arg. To make matters worse, all retail services in the terminal were closed a few hours prior. Tired and hungry, by the time we boarded the plane my mood was decidedly less than pleasant. Soon though, that all began to change.
While all the flight attendants were pleasant, one stood out in her efforts in dealing with a plane load of disgruntled customers. She first approached me and asked me how things were. I told her of my disappointment in how things were dealt with to that point and of previous misfortunes with the airline. Instead of just simply acknowledging and apologizing, from that point forward she seized the opportunity to make this particular flight one that I would enjoy. From simple decisions to comp our meal and beverages she provided us with extraordinarily attentive service…and huge dollops of humour.
Throughout the beginning of the 6 hour flight she would come back and discuss one by one all of the various concerns I had spoken of. For each one she acknowledged my disappointment and then proceeded to come back with actual comparative stats illustrating how this airline stacked up with the competition. It was clear that while this airline was not perfect, it was indeed competitive and it was trying. This to me could not have been evidenced more than by the exemplary behaviour of this one, caring and dedicated employee. Soon I was laughing and having the customer experience that this airline sold me as their brand.
What was shown here?
- That a company’s ‘true’ brand is directly tied to the behaviour of it’s employees.
- That individual leadership by any member of a staff team can turn around a negative customer experience.
- That a negative customer experience does not require much of a financial investment as a salve but instead, only requires a sincere commitment by staff to listen and take action.
Thanks Lindsay D. I will continue to fly with your airline. Your airline claims that its employees are owners. You behaved very much like an owner who wanted my continued business. Nothing says more to me than the personal leadership that you displayed in striving to deal with my concerns.