Want to change the culture? Start with your front line support teams!

Frustrated airline customer
Imagine your customer is having a small crisis. In my case, I was on a flight that went through repeated delays; first when the aircraft needed maintenance at the gate, then when the pilot aborted the takeoff, and then a third time when the airline finally had us switch planes. All told, my flight was four hours delayed. It wasn't a crisis for me, but it was for some passengers that were more nerved by the aborted flight.

As tough as it was for passengers, think about what the experience was like for the flight attendants that had to keep passengers calm and informed. They were doing their jobs to help nervous passengers and doing a great job of it. But, they were doing it at a disadvantage. As I was being updated by the airline's mobile app on the status of the flight, and then later on the gate change for our new plane, the flight attendants were left in the dark without any technology to get these updates.

That had to be frustrating for them. To be in charge of managing a front line issue and with  customers having better (but not good) information.

Fixing the culture by talking to front line support

That flight I was on was one of almost five thousand that airline flew that day and the incident is likely to be a single record in their systems tracking flight performance. That's probably not too different than the daily number of tickets in a large enterprise's help desk and incident management system.

Many of these tickets are mundane issues, but the aggregate of them speaks to customer experiences that should be improved or a back office operations that might be automated. Chatbots and RPAs are technologies that could be used to automate the response and management of these incidents.

Learning from customer support
Learning from customer support
Digging deeper and you're likely to find isolated incidents that tell a story. Sometimes it's a hint on how to improve the customer experience. But other times it's something that can help employees working on the front line.

Speak to the flight attendants, the teachers, the front desk operators, the retail clerks and take a seat in your call centers.

Review the numbers, listen to the stories


I've been blogging about simple tools for driving change in your organization. My first post was on changing to a data driven organization and why transforming with data, analytics, and AI is needed today.

Today, I want to encourage you to spend time with your front line customer support teams. Look at the numbers, but go beyond them and ask to hear their stories. Ask to hear about the hard problems and what could have made the resolution better for the customer and easier for them to support.

You might find something worth improving. Even better, you'll have engaged the front line staff. You will have listened to them and when the time is needed, they will be more likely to listen to you.

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