What a whirlwind! Talk about heavy travel… over the last 11 days I have been in 10 different airports, flown 4 different airlines and have had a whole slew of experiences with various types of management and leadership styles! It’s no secret that the slumping economy and rising cost of fuel have affected the airline industry. However, I can’t help but to wonder what the senior leadership of those struggling airlines would think if they could view their companies thru the eyes of a road warrior like me or perhaps even a casual traveler like many of you. Would airline executives be comfortable with the way their vision of customer service, quality and operational excellence is actually coming to life and being applied in the trenches? Countless delays, cancellations, cutbacks and curt staff members certainly is not the way to achieve any desirable management or leadership vision.
I often read the airline provided in-flight magazines when I fly and coincidentally, the first few pages of all of them usually have articles on customer service, on how valuable their customers are or about all the changes being made to constantly improve. However, as a traveler, I have not seen these changes come to life. Do they bother to communicate these changes or promises to their employees? If so, in what manner, how and when? And do they make it clear to employees what excellence looks like when the airline employees are living those promises? My gut on this is â€˜no’ just based on my travel experiences in the past 12 months alone. One thing I do know is traveling. I average no less than 3 days a week of travel – all over the world and I can count on one hand the number of great airline experiences I have had in the past year. Now that’s really saying something.
Without a clear and constant focus on informing, inspiring and engaging the employees of the airline organizations, how do leaders expect service levels and customer satisfaction or loyalty to increase? It is no secret that ongoing communication and engagement with employees has never been a strength of corporate America, but today- more than ever- it is a necessity.
As a consumer, I have too many options and too many forums to vent my frustration with anything less! And with the supersonic pace we are traveling today, you cannot assume mentioning expectations once is going to garner the desired result. Leaders today have to be even more vigilant about keeping what is important to their brand and what is valued by their customers front and center for themselves and their entire organizations…there can be no other way.