Roy's Blog: Serving Customers

August 25, 2017

Air Canada: this is what happens when your policies are really dumb

Does this seem reasonable to you?

Air Canada flight from London Heathrow to Vancouver.

I am sitting with my granddaughter about to be served lunch.

I ask the flight attendant for 2 white wine when she delivers our meal — my motivation was to avoid her having to come back later to give me another bottle.

Air canada

She replies that she can’t give me 2 bottles because their policy is to offer only 1 wine at a time.

When I question her about the reason behind the policy, she tells me that “It’s to control drinking on the aircraft.”

I get the reasoning but surely such a dumb rule requires some common sense when it’s applied.

I was sitting with my granddaughter for heavens sakes; pretty obvious I wasn’t looking to party and not a threat to disturbing the peace onboard.

But the policy was the policy and it was clear the flight attendant was not empowered to bend the rule in my particular case. The assumption was that I was like every other passenger in the past who drank too much and caused them a problem.

My takeaways from this experience:

— Air Canada has no idea what serving people is all about;

— Air Canada believes that solving a potential problem requires that every passenger be treated the same regardless of circumstance;

— Air Canada doesn’t believe in empowering their people to do the right thing for the customer;

— Air Canada thinks they have the right to be a “big brother” and control the customer experience rather than try to accommodate a reasonable request.

Air Canada continues to talk about how great their customer service is, but they have no idea what they’re talking about.

My intent is not to beat Air Canada up but to emphasize how critical it is to have policies applied with reason to each customer circumstance and not carte blanche to everyone. And to empower frontline people to apply their own judgement in applying the policy.

It will be interesting to see if I hear from them, as I intend to send them the link to this article…


  • Posted 8.25.17 at 06:25 am by Roy Osing
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August 21, 2017

How to deliver amazing customer service in 5 easy ways

Customer service is one of those concepts that lives in the cloud.

Organizations claim they are “the number 1 service provider”, “the best at service” or “the leading service provider in the industry”.

These lofty helium-filled claims mean little, however, when compared with how many organizations behave on a day-to-day basis. The words and music don’t match. Their claim is vapourware and is intellectually dishonest to those they are trying to convince.

Amazing service

Claiming to be truly unique in a crowd of customer service providers requires an organization to start with “the little things”; do them well and consistently and the result will be a truthful claim.

These “little things” will create the evidence you are what you claim.

1. Hire people that love serving other humans and do it naturally. Probably the biggest determinant of dazzling service, recruiting people who “get” serving and want to do it is often not given the priority it deserves.

2. Empower the frontline to bend or break the rules. Very organization has its set of rules, policies and procedures which in my view are really designed to CONTROL the customer experience. The customer transaction is forced into a process the company wants and often the customer doesn’t. This isn’t a common occurrence but when it happens the frontline employee must be allowed to deviate from common practice and transact with the customer on THEIR terms (don’t worry, they won’t “give away the farm”).

3. When a customer is screwed over, DAZZLE ‘em! Mistakes, unfortunately, are commonplace in any organization but service savy ones recognize the opportunity that a screw-over represents. In fact, dazzling service recovery INCREASES customer loyalty and the customer forgets about the original mistake.

The formula: FIX the screw-over fast + SURPRISE them with what they don’t expect.

4. Eliminate the “dumb rules” that piss off your customers. Every organization has them.
Find them - ask your frontline - eliminate them or at least change them to make them more customer friendly. Form “dumb rules teams” in your organization to seek out and destroy things that don’t make sense to customers. Have contests; reward the teams with the best results.

5. Set performance and compensation plans to encourage the right behaviours. If leadership and service provider teams aren’t compensated on providing dazzling service they won’t change and the service lie will continue. Customer perception objectives for the overall customer experience and service recovery for service OOPS! should be established and constantly measured.

Five little things; one HUGE result.


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  • Posted 8.21.17 at 05:37 am by Roy Osing
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March 27, 2017

How to AMAZE your customers in 4 easy ways

There are two elements to a service strategy: core service and the service experience.

Core service is the basic product or service you provide the market; your dial tone so to speak. Without your core service you don’t have a business. Clean hotel rooms, dial tone, accurate financial advice, working stereo systems and 24X7 cable service are all examples of core service.

Interestingly, customers expect your core service to work every time, and when it does they give you a ‘C’ on your service report card. Customer loyalty is unaffected; it neither goes up nor down.

The source of customer loyalty is the service experience; dazzling a customer will get you an ‘A’ on your service report card and they will keep coming back and tell everyone else how wonderful you are.

The objective, then, is to deliver your core service seamlessly and consistently 24X7X365 AND to dazzle and amaze the customer when you do it.

How does an organization create dazzling experiences?

1. Hire human being lovers. Can you dazzle a customer if your frontliners have a fundamental dislike for humans? No. Creating memorable experiences for customers requires employees who want to serve; they want to take care of people.
Look at your recruitment programs. Do they explicitly look for this attribute?

2. Recover: fix it and do the unexpected. Service mistakes happen in any organization; what’s critical, however, is what you do when they occur. The amazing thing is that customers are more loyal after a successful service recovery than if the mistake never happened at all! How to recover?
Fix the mistake FAST and then blow them away by surprising them with something they DON’T expect.

Dumb rules

3. Kill ‘dumb rules’. Do you have policies that don’t make sense to customers? The rules, policies and procedures that piss them off royally? Seek them out - ask your frontline - modify or get rid of them so they are not a source of aggravation.
Policy creation should be driven from the customer’s perspective not internal staff groups who are constantly in the control mode.

4. Bend the rules; empower the frontline to ‘say yes’. You can’t dazzle customers if your frontline is enforcing rules all the time. Allow them a bit of flexibility to bend the rule when it makes sense to do what the customer wants and delight them in the process.

Organizations that build culture around these 4 attributes are loved by their customers.

And they win.


Sales blogger

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  • Posted 3.27.17 at 04:16 am by Roy Osing
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February 20, 2017

1 simple way to amaze your customers

There IS a secret ingredient to mixing a brew of remarkable customer experiences.

And it’s not just about your service strategy.

And it’s not just about the theory of customer behaviour.

So much is being written about how to build an effective customer experience strategy.

In fact advice and direction is “raining down” on organizations looking to establish “The Experience” as a competitive advantage.


Here’s my thinking.

I don’t think creating memories with an organization starts with strategy or study of consumer behaviour at all.

In fact I believe you can have a mediocre strategy and know sh*t about consumer behaviour theory and still deliver mind-blowing experiences.

The most common experience is created when two humans engage with one another. Yes, human-meets-technology creates an experience but it pales in comparison with the more frequent human interaction (I would argue in any event that the human - technology interaction should be modelled after the human - human one. It’s the benchmark that people use to set expectations).

The critical ingredient in human-to-human contact is emotion.

Does the server really care about taking care of the customer? Do they have the basic instinct and innate desire to serve others?

Because if they do, they will deliver crazy amazing experiences regardless of the specifics of the strategy.

Customer experience

These types of people would create dazzling experiences even if the strategy merely said “We intend to provide world class customer service” (YUK!).

“Head west” with your experience strategy but be obsessed with recruiting people who are born with the “caring virus”); who are “sick” with it and who naturally spread it to their colleagues.

Ask THEM how the human - technology interaction should look.

A pristine strategy without people who “love” people will go down in flames because execution is not an intellectual exercise; it’s achieved through acts of emotion on the frontline.

A vague strategy fuelled by human being lovers will deliver amazingness involuntarily.

P. S. And it’s NOT a training issue. You can’t train people to “love” other people. You can train ‘em to “grin” but that’s as far as it goes.

Just saying…

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  • Posted 2.20.17 at 05:44 am by Roy Osing
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