Turning Around Customer Service

turnaround time

Last week, the Ideba team met in Palo Alto to have dinner with (surprise guest!) Oscar Munoz. It was so interesting to hear the former United Airlines CEO speak about how he turned around the airline through a somewhat surprising strategy: listening to United bag handlers, reservation agents, flight attendants, and other staff, learning about the barriers they were facing, and then doubling down on empowering them to provide exceptional customer service. He heard United workers saying they were exhausted of having to say “sorry” to customers all the time, and he got to work changing how United operated.

Munoz illustrated this change with a specific example I keep thinking about; a scenario all travelers fear – arriving at the gate just as the doors are closing. In the past, the abstract goal of on-time arrivals prevented the gate agent from seeing and helping travelers eager to start their vacation or desperate to get home to see a loved one. The agent was instead required to enforce a strict policy. “Sorry, you’re late, we can’t help you.”

Munoz shifted this mentality to put the focus back on the customer, which enabled the agent to do the right thing for that stressed traveler (rather than literally closing a door in their face). It feels good to provide excellent service, and United staff appreciate being empowered to do so.

Munoz’s philosophy of listening and then empowering staff to center the customer is one we embrace at Ideba, and we love helping our clients train their teams to do so. This recent case study showcases how we partner with our clients to deliver customized training and build teams’ customer service toolkits. We understand not every scenario is the same, and we work hard to understand each client’s circumstances and sticking points to address their exact challenges and provide specific and tangible service resolutions. Of course, it was awesome to see how this client’s CSAT scores increased dramatically following their service training program.

We’re always listening for examples of exceptional customer service, and eager to help teams create those stories of their own. Does your organization focus on providing excellent customer service? If yes, how exactly? And does your company plan to invest in service training in 2024? We’d love to hear from you!  

Mylène Kerschner – Senior Research and Consulting Manager