We Know. It Happens all the time!

Does this sound familiar? You let a business know that something about them inconvenienced you or was confusing and the response is, “Yes, we know. It happens all the time.”I checked in at one of my local airports for a flight. Having recently learned that this airport strives to keep your wait times in security short, I was pleased to see that the security line in fact was quick. I made my way through security with plenty of time to get a bite to eat before my flight boards. I walked to my gate and saw a Starbucks, but I was looking for a restaurant where I could sit down and get a salad or sandwich. I still had some time, so I followed the signs to another concourse to see if I could find a better option. In between the concourse I was leaving and the next one was a security guard. About ten feet after I passed the guard, who watched me walk past her, I realized I was back at Ticketing. I turned around to walk back into the concourse for my flight.

What do you think happened next? The guard, who watched me walk out of the concourse, very loudly told me I now had to go back through security. It took me a moment to process how I ended up back at Ticketing. Was there a sign that I missed? I clearly remembered the large overhead sign with arrows pointing to the next concourse, but no warning that you wouldn’t be allowed back in without going through security. I have been in airports all over the world and have moved from concourse to concourse without going back out to Ticketing.

When I reached the first TSA agent in the security line, she greeted me with a smile of recognition. I explained the mistake I had made. She apologized and told me it happens all of the time. She recommended that I write the airport and ask them to put up better signage. While she was very nice and understood my frustration, I felt that the future remedy of this situation now rested upon my shoulders. I wasn’t looking for additional work to do. At the next check point, I heard the gentlemen in front of me tell the TSA agent that they just went through security and mistakenly walked down the wrong hallway to find additional food options. They had done the same thing as me!

This agent wasn’t as nice as the last. She rudely told them they should have read the sign. I chimed in that there wasn’t a sign and that I had done the same thing. The agent defensively responded that there is a sign and that so many people make that mistake because they just don’t look.

The gentlemen ahead of me and I walked back to where we made our error to see how it could have been avoided. We did discover the sign. It was a floor sign pushed off to the sign. I had to walk right up to it to read it.

What lessons can we learn about customer service from this experience?

– Test your signage and procedures. Do you make it easy for a new customer, who is not familiar with your services or facilities, to navigate? Sometimes we forget that our signage and facilities have an impact on the customer experience.

– Create a system for your employees to give feedback on what they observe or hear from customers. Train them to constantly look for ways to improve the customer experience and motivate them to share these ideas with you.

– Train your employees on how to address mishaps and customer concerns. You don’t want your customer walking away thinking you don’t care. It is doubtful you will ever see them again.

The airport in the example above sells itself on the short wait times at security. Do you think the customers who go through security twice due to poor signage remembers the short wait time or the hassle of repeating the experience?

Are your facilities or procedures easy for customers to navigate or do they create more confusion and work for them? How can you make doing business with you easier for your customers?


About Andrea

Andrea Hoffer brings a unique perspective to consulting and training. A small business owner with 35 employees herself, she knows first hand the everyday challenges of motivating employees, exceeding customer expectations, and meeting business and revenue goals. Contact Andrea to help you improve the experience you offer your customers and employees.


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