Lost Luggage and the art of fulfilling your promise.png

While it’s easy to pick on the airlines, we’ve ALL had a lost luggage experience. Lost luggage happens every time an employee fails to deliver on a promise.

The promise of your brand lives or dies on your frontline. To your customer, the reality of your brand experience isn’t in your tagline, it’s on your frontline, in what your customer experiences when things go right, and when they go wrong.

Employees fall short on fulfilling your brand promise for several reasons. Maybe it’s about understanding and buy-in:  

  • They don’t get it

  • They get it, but it doesn’t matter.

Or it’s a skill challenge:

  • They don’t know what to do.

  • They don’t know how to do it.

Maybe it’s an empowerment challenge:

  • They think they aren’t allowed to do something on behalf of the customer

The good news is that training professionals are in a position to prevent lost luggage experiences by being partners with both the brand team and with business operations.

First, get really clear about what it means to deliver on the promise – understand it in both practical and emotional terms. Then begin to sort out what causes the disconnect between the intention and the experience. These six elements singularly or in tandem contribute to a broken promise:

  • Your people are your brand. You entrust them with the most critical responsibility of all: fulfilling the promises you make to your customers. Everything an employee does contributes to or detracts from the customer experience. And, people always remember how their experience made them feel.

  • Your purpose is what your organization stands for. It’s the heartbeat that fuels consistently excellent service, and the above and beyond discretionary actions that can truly differentiate your brand.

  • Your practice is how things are done informally. It includes norms such as how employees treat one another, whether or not people show up on time, whether or not truth-telling is encouraged, and so on. The practices of your organization reflect your culture.

  • Your process is the formal, business practices, SOPs, and guidelines that everyone follows. Process allows employees to contribute to a consistent customer experience. At the same time, processes might lag behind changing customer expectations and get in the way of doing the right thing for the customer. For example, we’ve helped our clients revise business processes that conflicted with customer expectations and the promise of the brand. If the first thing a customer service rep must enter is an account number, you treat the caller as an account number and not person. Change the system to capture the name first and then the account number.

  • Your pace is the speed at which employees work. Pace reflects your organization’s priorities and either contributes to, or takes away from, customer trust.

  • Your place is the physical or virtual space where employees engage with customers. As training professionals, we may not have a lot of say about place but we can’t afford to be silent if we see something that interferes with employee performance. Place matters because it makes it easy or difficult for your employees to serve customers. Consider this example: If you want an employee to make eye contact and engage in conversations, but their workspace requires the them to turn their back on the customer to enter info into the computer, the place is failing both the employee and the customer.

As training professionals, we don’t “fix” behavior; we enable employees to deliver on the brand promise.