I recently was on a Jet Blue flight returning from Denver to Orlando when it was announced the flight would be delayed three hours due to weather conditions in Denver. With the two hour time difference and three hour flight, I now would not be arriving home till 5 a.m. in the morning. It was so disheartening and you could see everyone in the waiting area sigh with disappointment.
Three hours later, exhausted from the day and wait, everyone was finally boarded and staring vacantly at the flight attendant as she went through the routine safety procedures. At the end of the announcements though we all perked up as she said “We know it has been a long, frustrating day and you are all very tired. And even though we couldn’t control the thunderstorm delay this evening, we are going to treat you free of charge the use of the movie channel on this evening’s flight. We want your day to end on a better note and for all of you who were transferred from American Airlines to this flight – we don’t want you to go back!”
This flight attendant was empowered to make that decision. Corporate would not have been open at 11 p.m. that evening for her to call and ask permission to allow for not charging for the movie channel, she had to have made that decision herself. I got up at one time during the flight and walked to the back of the cabin and asked her how she was empowered to make that decision. Her response: “As long as it ties back into one of our values, I am able to creatively decide how to best handle a situation. Our values are: Safety, Courtesy, Fun, and Passion.”
This ties back to PASSION, passion for our guests, the passengers.
Another example of this empowerment, was when Alexa, a passenger boarding a Jet Blue flight, tweeted she was upset her vacation was over. She jokingly said she wanted a parade to greet her when she got home. Some Jet Blue employees got together and met her at the plane exit gate with a mini-parade! This action obviously ties back into their value of FUN.
If you don’t have Service Standards or identified Values, employees rely on their past experiences to make decisions or only go strictly by the rules, sometimes to the detriment of the customer. Giving great customer experiences cannot always be planned or automated, there are many times when it must be instantaneous as in the two above Jet Blue situations. Developing and teaching clear Standards and strong Values gives your employees a guide to making decisions on their own. It will empower them to make your customers happy and create loyal customers. Training these Service Standards and Values through sharing these kinds of stories, will help give employees an understanding of what they can do. Setting up a centralized location where WOW stories and examples can be posted will also help spread innovative and creative ways to deliver amazing service.