On board Service… surely the clue is in the title

How can service levels be so different in the same organisation?

I’ll tell you.

It’s because different parts of this particular organisation are operated by different people and, in some cases, by an entirely different organisation!

I am talking about KLM, that world renowned business with such a good reputation for quality and service.

Let me tell what’s happened so far.

I booked flights to Dallas with KLM rather than British Airways because there was a direct flight from Schipol to Texas, with no changes in the States. Whether I went BA or KLM didn’t matter… with one I would have to change at Heathrow and the other at Schiphol.

So, I booked the flights using the KLM website. All very efficient and easy to use. So far so good.

Last Friday, though, I had a message left on my answer ‘phone for me from a Dutch guy. ‘I’m shorry Mishter Lambert. Your flight has been canshelled sho we’ve booked on the shame flight, but a day later. Good bye.’ And, lo and behold, I had received an email with new flight confirmations!

No good to me!

I booked that flight because I needed to start work the day after I arrived. So, in an obvious fit of pique I replied to the email saying ‘cancel everything!’

Then I had a word with myself and telephoned KLM. The service I received was brilliant… I was rerouted onto a flight on the same day, the only fly in the ointment is that I now had to change in the States. But, never mind; at least I would be on time to start work.

The problem was, though, the flight is with Delta, not KLM and, I’m sorry, the service just isn’t as good. I’m pretty sure I haven’t seen a smile from anyone yet and the service was perfunctory, to say the least.

So, we have at least four different service experiences from the same business…

  1. The website worked well
  2. The telephone call changing my flight to something that was useless to me (and the assumption I would be okay with this)
  3. The brilliant service to the KLM office to get re-routed
  4. The less than smiling service actually on board the flight

As a consumer, I’m confused.

Service should really be joined up and, human nature, being what it is, I’m going to remember the most negative aspects of my experience. And tell everyone about them.

Although not on so grand a scale, this can be an issue in EB, too. Different people delivering service in different ways. It’s bad news if your customers call you hoping to get one person but get someone else who they feel they don’t get the service they want from.

Soon they’ll stop calling altogether and that spells disaster for any business.

Service is a feeling, but a feeling can be generated by creating a process that everyone in your business can follow. It’s worth doing, just to generate consistency… because consistency gets noticed and is appreciated.

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