Thursday, November 7, 2013

Fix the System, Not the People (Most of the Time)

If you put a good person against a bad system, the systems wins every time.                                                                                  - Geary Rummler
There is certainly nothing wrong with customer service training, and I have no beef with any industry using customer service training as a means for improving

The problem I have with this prescription is that it pre-supposes that the problem with customer service in the airline industry is that the employees are delivering bad customer service.

We have all experienced bad service with an airline. But ask yourself this. Was the bad service a result of the person or the policy/system the person was supporting?

Think about it.


Do you consider it bad customer service when the agent at the airport says, “I’m sorry, but it is our policy that we now charge a $75 to fly standby, even though the earlier flight is empty and on-time, and the flight you are booked on in 2 hours is full and delayed by 2 hours.”

You might be upset with the agent, but strictly speaking, the airline policy has set that agent up to fail with you. What else can this person say?

OK, fine, we can train that agent not to say “it’s our policy, “ but the root cause of your dissatisfaction is the system. The policy itself. Not the agent.

If you really want to improve customer service in the airline industry, get them to operate like Costco or Nordstrom and make it very easy to do business with them.

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