Delta: Why your customer service training won’t work


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If you fly in the USA it won’t be news to read that Delta’s airlines has low ratings on customer service. How are they going to fix the problem?

Read Scott McCartney’s recent article in the Wall Street Journal, Delta sends its 11,000 agents to charm school. Scott summarizes the depth of despair and anger among Delta’s customers and a few of the key points to better customer service. Here is the five point plan:

The Lesson Plan

In its training program, Delta emphasizes these five ways to ‘wow’ fliers with customer service:

  • Make it personal. Focus on the person in front of you, not the long line of people. Greet each one memorably.
  • Be empathetic. Put yourself on the other side of the counter.
  • Listen, ask, listen again. Customers tune out routine announcements. Agents tune out customers.
  • Solve together. Involve customers in solutions by offering choices.
  • Be there. It’s a lot easier to check out than check in. ‘If you don’t remember your last three customers, you are just processing,’ said Delta facilitator Michael Hazelton.

I’m sure it’s a well designed training program, but I have to tell you, Delta…

It’s not enough!

Yes, this will initially drive some awareness and good intentions for behavior change among customer facing personnel, but you and I know that isn’t a sustainable solution without working the underlying issues. What issues, you ask?

Management needs to balance the demand for better customer service against the many other logistics of running a labor intensive business where the greatest pressure is to better manage cost. How will you do that and still protect customer service?

Executive leadership has to see this as a long-term differentiator to the business, not just a temporary charge against this year’s P&L statement and something to move 11,000 people through as fast as they can. What is your plan beyond ‘fixing’ the customer service personnel?

I want to know, Delta, how will you ensure the training can be put into practice, how will it be reinforced over time, and how will you reward employees who excel at customer service?

W.Edwards Deming once said, “Only 15% of the problem is due to people skills; the other 85% is due to the system”.

So please tell me, Delta, what you are doing to address the other 85% of the problem?

Where do you think Delta should be spending it’s time fixing its customer service problem?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Marc Sokol
A psychologist with an eye for the ways organizational dynamics make it possible or impossible to delight customers, I see the world from the eyes of customers, employees and leaders who strive to transform customer experience.


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