Whenever I step onto an airplane, I ask the flight attendant that greets me for a bottle of water. And they always cheerfully fullifill that simple request.
Always, until last night...
I was boarding an AirTran flight from Fort Lauderdale to Baltimore, and I asked the attendant if "I may please have a bottle of water to take to my seat."
"Seriously?" I asked...
"Yes - that's the policy."
There's nothing worse that a internally-serving policy that spoils the customer experience!
Now, I can write an entire blog post about either of the following...
- Never tell a customer it's your policy to deny them of a resonable request.
- If you have to cut costs, do it in places where it's less visible to the customer.
... but I won't talk about those things, because there something else going on, that's perhaps more insidious; something that can be even more damaging to a company's ability to build its brand and reputation. That something is consistency.
Once we reached cruising altitude, another flight attendant came down the aisle with the beverage cart, and asked me what I'd like to drink.
Correct - I asked for a bottle of water. Not just a 6 ounce cup, but the entire 12-ounce bottle! She promptly handed me the bottle, smiled, and said, " would you like anything else?".
The same simple request, posed to two different customer-facing emloyees of the same company yielded to entirely different answers, and different experiences.
policy, while the other seemed entirely focused on pleasing the customer?
As customers, our perception of who you are as a company, and what you represent is often the sum total of our interactions with your company, expecially those live person-to-person interactions. When the experiences are consistent, our expectations are solidified, and your reliability to fulfill those expectations gets stronger. And does your brand and reputation.
But if our experiences become inconsistent because different employees act differently and respond differently, we lose faith, and you lose credibility. Customer crave consistency and we don't like uncertainty. When we're made to feel uncertain - or worse, disappointed, we'll move away in search of a more stable, predictable company who'll take care of us, and do so consistently.
Consistency matters. Pursue it. Ruthlessly.
As customers, we thirst for it. Don't deny us of that simple pleasure.
Consistency can be a very sweet thing for your customers. It elevates your brand, and earns their trust.