How we’re building the smoothest ride in the business
Passports. Check! Tickets. Check! Daughter’s stroller. Double-check!! I’m all set for some well-deserved time with my family. We arrive at our destination only to discover that the airline had a little ‘surprise’ in our one-year-old’s checked luggage. What followed were two wildly different complaint-handling journeys that I will share to illustrate six key customer experience lessons I learned and strive to implement at Trella today.
Back at our Airbnb, the plastic wrapping came off – along with the check-in tag – to reveal a broken stroller. Not only would my wife and I have to navigate enjoying a long holiday carrying our daughter ourselves, I would return home to the added work of contacting both the airline to claim for damages and the stroller manufacturer to get it fixed.
Let me start off by telling you about the airline’s customer support team: they were polite. That’s about as far as I can say in their favor. But, it was no easy feat to reach the ‘team that handles these kinds of accidents’. And when I did, I was passed around until one of them told me to send an email. So I did, and I was asked to provide some more trip details, particularly the stroller’s check-in tag reference number. Roadblock! There was no way forward without this magic number which I no longer had. Steadfast in my determination, I pulled strings to reach an insider who would do me this ‘favour’.
Weeks later, the airline came back to me with a compensation offer that was at roughly 10% of the stroller’s value, I negotiated it up to 30% and then I just settled, I wanted over with this and reluctantly accepted that the staff had maxed out on all the procedures and rules they could follow to help me. Needless to say, a bank transfer wasn’t on the table and so I drove down to the airport early on a workday morning to collect the cash. Despite saying the offices opened at 8.30 am, no-one appeared to help me at the front desk before 8.55 am. While the team was busy having breakfast, I gave myself the goosfraba pep talk because neither my rage – nor feedback – would be useful at this stage.
Meanwhile, I’d reached out to the stroller company to buy a replacement for the broken parts. It will suffice to say that my smooth interaction left me spellbound and inspired. Emma, the thoughtful agent, went beyond the call of duty to make sure the required parts made their way to my home – in Egypt – hassle-free. Not only that, she registered the stroller on my behalf which meant everything was free of charge too!
The contrast between both experiences is so stark. As a client-facing professional, I feel compelled to use them to learn and shape the way we approach delivering customer experiences at Trella. Below are the top six cultural shifts I believe differentiate the likes of the airline and the stroller companies in my story:
Take control of the issue
When a customer contacts support, she probably is in pain because of something that went wrong in the service being offered. The customer wants us to take ownership of the problem and fix it for her. She doesn’t want options and she doesn’t want to know how, she just wants it fixed and at the earliest; she wants us to take control of her problem. And that is exactly what Emma did, and exactly what the airline company failed to do when they kept passing me from one representative to the other and the long waits in between.
When I was telling Emma my story, I remember in the middle of it, she replied back at one instant with an ‘oh dear’. What did that tell me? She acknowledged what I went through on my trip, she showed me she is listening to what I’m saying, and she gave me the comfort of sensing she will address my problem. This level of emotional intelligence is most probably done consciously, and that speaks miles of Emma and the team working with her.
Claim ownership & care about the customer’s issue
As a support agent, sometimes you will get calls from customers for issues that are out of your depth or that are not your speciality, and sometimes you will notice that following the process would not be enough. The rule of thumb is, if you were the first to pick the customer’s contact, it is yours, put yourself in the customer’s shoes and make sure you follow through for her.
Invest in your most important asset
Your frontline team members. They are the face of your company and their actions speak louder than any marketing strategy would or could. With Emma’s handling of my issue, the stroller company has my loyalty for life. I gladly ‘market’ its product and service to this day to everyone and anyone in my network.
Solve for the root-cause
If we take the airline company experience as an example, axing the guy who passed me to the next person or the guy who told me ‘tag number or no go’ will not help, because the same will occur with other customers whose baggage were mishandled. What needs to be reviewed here is the process, it needs to be (re)viewed from the lens of the customers.
Use data to tell stories
Every interaction is an opportunity to learn more about your customer, what they like, what they don’t like, what’s working, what’s not… It is a continuous process – and the only way to stay ahead of the game is through data.
In simplest terms, our community of Carriers and Shippers are at the heart of Trella’s company ecosystem. Our Shippers rely on us to move their goods, and our Carriers rely on us to earn a living. We try to be the stroller company to them day in, and day out.
Hamed is a proud father, foodie, avid traveler, and a SCUBA diver. Reach him via his Linkedin account if you have any questions, comments, or would just like to chat about absolutely anything!