“The heartbeat of your business depends on your clients. Alternatively, how you treat your customers will determine their heartbeat’’.
Therefore you can manipulate the heartbeat of your clients through love in a form of an excellent customer experience, psychologically through your brand disposition, emotionally through meeting their needs or physically through verbal communication and interactions. In this case, United Airlines decided to manipulate their customer’s heartbeat through physical abuse. Does this experience, therefore, define the importance of staff to the disadvantage of the client? Who is, therefore, a customer and what is the customer’s role in any business entity?
Some say the customer is king, others say the customer is always right whilst others believe the customer is an asset to any company. The truth is the customer should be your highest priority if your business is centred on meeting their needs. Customer centricity is the platform for customer retention that leads to business development and growth.
Richard Branson says that ‘’Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients’’. I don’t agree with that as to me clients come first because without them you don’t have a business not to talk about the existence of your staff. However, there are instances that no matter how you look after your staff, they still under perform in terms of providing that unique customer experience. Hence in my opinion, your clients come first but as stated, any business has a duty to look after their staff to meet the needs of your clients in a special way to exceed their expectations at all times.
Therefore Katherine Barchetti says; ‘’make a customer, not a sale’’. I believe United Airlines are more interested in making a sale rather than winning a customer’s heart for a life. The fact is anyone can make the first sale but not everyone can make the second sale not to talk about the consistent sale from a particular client. Making the transition of making a sale to building a loyal customer is a difficult journey and only businesses that put their clients at the centre of all their decisions are able to achieve that.
I call the customer the fuel of the business. Without your clients, your business is a standstill and obviously, there will be no cash flow to run the engine of your business. Hence how can you trade your customers experience to benefit your staff? In a real sense, your clients pay all the benefits that make your staff happy to be with your company all these while.
Hence United Airlines have caused one of the biggest debacles of the century in terms of creating a lasting bad impression on their customers and potential customers. This experience is a permanent dent on the brand of United Airlines. The airline’s customer experience has sparked a debate of who is more important, the staff or the client. To tell a client who has taken the pains to book a flight, pay for it, arrive at an airport on time, checked in, get into the plane, puts his luggage in the cubicle and finds his allocated seat waiting for the plane to take off just to be told, they have to vacate their seat for a staff of the company to travel is one of the most absurd customer experience of the century.
The fact is making the reasons why your client is travelling irrelevant and to have the guts to tell your client to leave the plane and fly the next day with compensation means your staffs are more important than your clients. This sounds like a myth but it’s a real life situation. I think this philosophy and business model of United Airlines needs further research as probably there is more to it that we don’t know in terms of how this model can benefit their clients.
However, this issue that happened to United Airlines is happening in different ways in a lot of Small and Medium enterprises as well corporate entities across the globe. Some SMEs and big corporations don’t care about the needs of the client, they are not afraid to lose one customer as a result of bad customer experience and all they think about is their selfish interest of making sale and not meeting their needs.
The video of the passenger been dragged out of the plane going viral defines the new era of social media where you can be exposed to the world within a split of seconds. United Airlines is a big company and they might have the resources to cushion this shock. However, as an SME, any small mistake that comes to the limelight can be the end of your entrepreneurial journey. Hence all SMEs have a duty to start doing the right thing when it comes to their customers.
Therefore to any business entity, what you need to understand is that your customers are;
The Mother of Your Business
As a business entity, you are a mother to your clients. You are responsible for meeting the needs of your clients. Failing to do that means you have lost the plot in terms of starting the business in the first place and your reasons for providing that particular service.
The fact is a good mother feeds her children. She makes sure they never go hungry and their needs are met on a consistent basis. A good mother does not discriminate among her children but loves all of them equally. So why would United Airlines discriminate among its clients? On what criteria and basis do they select who has the opportunity to stay on the flight and who should leave? A good mother sacrifices her life to meet the needs of their children and they are selfless in doing this. Hence it sounds weird when United Airlines will sacrifice the needs of some of his clients to the advantage of his staff.
A good recommendation for such a big airline is to have a plane that will solely serve its staff if there are constant immediate needs of staff to fly.
Make the Life of Your Clients Easier and Not Complicated
How can you stop the journey of your client just because you want to fulfill your needs at the expense of your client? The person that you wake up every day to go and serve is no more a priority. As a business entity, you have to understand that, the person that you spend your time waiting for all day to bring you business is the one that keeps you in business. Hence don’t create complicated experiences for them but make them comfortable to access your services in an environment without fear or intimidation.
Don’t Give Your Competitors Chance
Your competitors are always looking for a loophole to capitalise on your shortfalls. The market today is very competitive and customers have lots of choices. Hence if you don’t deliver, they will go next door. Therefore you need to exceed expectations in today’s competitive and sophisticated market where it is becoming increasing difficult to meet the needs of your clients in a consistent manner. Hence the worse you can do is to make them leave your business door unhappy to come back for repeat business. Therefore make sure they leave happily to come back and potentially send positive feedbacks to others about your unique service.
Thus this United Airlines debacle is not a lesson but an asset for any business in terms of dealing and effectively managing the customer experience. To me, the customer is the ultimate stakeholder in any business entity because without them no one has a business.
Hence making sure you meet their needs in a special way that will lead to a lasting relationship leading to generating resources, growth and potential clients should be your main objective as a business. Remember your customer service excellence is the most cost effective strategy and competitive advantage in any industry you find yourself in.
Bill Gates says; ‘’your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning’’. Hence I believe this United Airlines debacle will be a great learning experience for them and any business entity.
Always remember it’s possible if only you believe.
Author – Oscar Bimpong
Award Winning Transformational Speaker, Corporate Trainer & Business Consultant
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Web – http://www.oscarbimpong.com