I would like to highlight two experiences in the last week that have helped me understand the sheer importance of service.
1. Kereta Api Indonesia
I had the pleasure to ride the train on a 7-hour trip from Bandung to Yogyakarta this past weekend. Honestly, I did not put much faith into the Indonesian public transport system, but I thought – why not? It couldn’t have been better. The design of the train allowed more space than usual, but what set the experience apart was a young gentleman who was serving passengers on the train.
His presence and warmth was projected by his constant smile, and even one of the people I was traveling with said it was probably stamped on his face at birth. Regardless, his service, and the dedication he was doing his job with made the trip that much better. Drew has already said that it is truly your employees that make your company.
2. Singapore Airlines
I really used to think that Singapore Airlines was the Crème de la Crème of the sky. I even participated in a presentation cooing about the fact that Singapore Airlines was the best thing since sliced bread. And my experiences were very good in the past.
Last week I was flying in to Singapore having already been delayed with an overnight layover in Tokyo. We had 45 minutes to board our plane, and made it in time to check in and get our boarding passes. The lady checking us in alerted us that our baggage would be on the next flight 3 hours later (it happens). She then said that we were liable to pick up the luggage from the airport. I disagreed with her, but she rudely interrupted and told me I had to drive to the airport and pick it up.
I told her to put me on the flight with my luggage, but to hold on a minute while I made a phone call. I found out that I was right and that SQ was liable for my luggage. After she had handed the boarding card to another person in our group on that flight, I told her that I would like to be on the earlier flight. With 40 minutes until boarding (check-in closes at 30), she said that she closed the flight already. I asked her to just wrap up the paperwork on the later flight, and that I would be fine with it. Once again, she rudely told me to go back in line and wait.
There was not an ounce of sympathy in her demeanor in the fact that at that point I had already been traveling almost 45 hours and that she had just delayed me another four. This truly did not reflect on Singapore Airlines’ mission statement, and they will be hearing from me shortly.
Drew McLellan, Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group, reiterates the importance of service in this experiential economy we live in. In a market oversaturated in goods in almost every industry, the experience of a relationship with a brand may be what sets it apart from the others. Some great examples are Apple, with their interactive stores and wonderful customer service and Singapore Airlines, with the immaculate attention to detail by the entire staff in ensuring your comfort. Service is such an important factor of each brand, particularly because of the Internet. Word of Mouth now spreads through the Internet at lightning speed.
When you have a great experience with a company, how many people do you tell?
When you have a horrible experience with a company, how many people do you tell? (Usually a lot more)
With the Internet multiply that by 10.
The Crossroads Competition was a great success in proving to the community that there is great talent being fostered at Drake University. It also allowed me to learn a few valuable lessons.
1. Be very organized
Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines.
Make sure there is a system in place to keep track of things
2. Leaders must cooperate
When working with other people, there is a certain level of give and take.
Negotiations are particularly important, moreso when the final result is to have both parties come out winners.
3. Sometimes leaders must wing it
Cooperation is important, but sometimes executive decisions must be made on the spot. More often than not, a leader will have time to confer with others before making a decision. There may be, however, that one call during which a decision must be made as soon as possible. A leader is there because he knows (or should know) what he is doing, and is ready and capable to make an intelligent decision on behalf of others, and ready to take the responsibility and consequences of it. This is where the decision is made with a strong gut feeling and belief that it is the best one.
I ran into this last one quite often over the course of the competition, and I really liked it. Conferring with others is a great way to provide a well-rounded perspective, but sometimes what a group needs is that one shot into the dark. Who knows, maybe you’ll hit something and maybe you won’t. That’s the risk a progressive leader should be willing to take.
This marketing competition was a shot into the dark. It was a risk for which I was willing to compromise my reputation and credibility because I believed in it. With a few glitches here and there it worked, and it will be held again next year.
Let me tell you, hitting that target in the dark is pretty damn sweet.