Through Service Comes Loyalty

Consultant outlines key components of a successful service regimen.


Build relationships with customers
It’s difficult (maybe impossible) to develop loyalty if you do not have a relationship with the customer. You would be surprised at how often airport and FBO employees have entire conversations with customers without ever asking their name. How can you build a relationship without knowing someone’s name? If you were speaking with a potential new colleague or friend, you would surely ask their name. Think of customers in the same way. Remember, staff needs to be engaging and positive, no matter if their interactions are in person or over the phone. Strong relationships are the centerpiece of a loyal customer base.

Feedback, measurement, encouragement
If you want to impact behavior and raise the bar on the service you provide, your training must be reinforced and continually developed.

One method our company has found highly effective is mystery shopping. We’ll call a fixed base operator after a training session and pretend we are a customer inquiring about fuel costs. We expect the customer service representative to apply the skills we teach in training, such as getting the caller’s name, building a relationship, and asking for the reservation. In other words, we want them to do more than just quote the fuel price. Anyone can do that.

Since we record the mystery shops (and then evaluate them), local management is able to use specific examples to further coach the staff. The measurement is objective and the feedback is timely and relevant.

Companies we’ve worked with have seen a considerable impact in the skills that we measure on these calls. Employees are gathering the necessary information, providing value to callers, and asking for the reservation. These improvements impact reputation and ultimately revenues.

We encourage companies to reward their employees when they do well on these calls. This positive feedback goes a long way in developing your culture.

Don’t compromise
You want to be the best airport or FBO in your market. You want to build a loyal and devoted customer base. That will be more difficult if you compromise your customer service standards. Train your employees, set the right example, and expect the best.

A Bain & Company survey reveals that in studying 362 companies, 80 percent believed they delivered a “superior experience” to their customers. But when asking their customers, only eight percent thought these companies were delivering a superior experience. It is easy for a company to feel it is providing a legendary level of customer service. However, the only perception that counts is that of the customer.

Another study by the Harvard Business Review reports that 97 percent of customers who report being loyal to a company never leave. They are customers for life.

And, a study from Maritz, Inc. says that more than 68 percent of American consumers wanted to or took their business elsewhere after a bad customer experience. Of those who left, 43 percent cited their service experience as the main reason; 83 percent of those who left due to poor service told others of their negative experience.

Many companies assume their employees are taking care of their customers. But, is that something you want to assume? FBOs and airports are competitive, and if you want to create a competitive advantage, then consider creating a culture where legendary service is the norm. You want to set the standard in your market and have other airport-based businesses compare their service to yours.

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