As a Senior Team Leader at Flight Centre, Jay Dean lives and breathes excellent customer service. Here, Jay shares his advice on creating a workplace culture that makes customer service a number one priority.
Good customer service’ is a term that’s often used by organisations who want to sell themselves with minimum effort, as it doesn’t describe anything in particular. It’s effectively a hollow promise, if it can be considered a promise at all.
At Flight Centre, we see customer service differently. We don’t see it as something to claim that we’re good at on a whim, but instead we see it as a by-product of a customer-centric culture. We’ve built it into our business – it’s as much a part of our make-up as a skeleton is in a body. Without customers we have no business, so it’s in our best interests to treat them as best we can.
At Flight Centre, everything we do in customer-facing roles revolves around our Seven Sales Steps.
Of these, the Welcome, Conversation and Recommendation steps are the most critical to good customer service. During these stages, the customer is getting to know Flight Centre, and as we all know, first impressions count for a lot.
We also use this time to get to know the customer and truly understand their needs. Every individual is unique, and should be serviced in the way that reflects this uniqueness. And once we form a bit of a base of knowledge, good service is also about ensuring that the customer experience is amazing from the day they begin the booking process to the day they arrive back in Australia.
Once the core of good customer service is in place, providing an outstanding experience is simply a matter of ‘putting icing on the cake’. In the travel industry, this is often encapsulated in the motto ‘under-promise and over-deliver’ – by stating timelines and costs in terms of a (close to) worst-case scenario, a customer will be pleasantly surprised if they wait or pay less!
On a personal level, I’ve found the most rewarding customer service experiences to be those when I am able to help customers who find themselves in the worst possible situations. Having the misfortune of being stuck overseas or hearing of an unexpected death at home can be truly traumatic for a person on holiday. We do everything we can to go above and beyond in situations like these, and the customer always feels so thankful that they happened to come into our store to book their trip. It also makes me feel really good to be able to take some stress out of what is an incredibly traumatic time.
It’s not enough that an organisation employs individuals who pride themselves on customer service. To deliver truly outstanding service, the right hires need to be offered a framework that gives them the ability to provide the level of service that they aspire to.
Flight Centre does this in two ways...
The first is the ability to professionally develop, which Flight Centre offers through its Brightness of Future program and the aforementioned Seven Sales Steps, which offer sales and service professionals an introduction into the fundamentals of a customer-centric approach. Don’t let the generic name fool you – this invention is comprised of genuinely unique sales components, and has been invaluable to a wealth of Flight Centre staff.
The second is access to unique resources that make the job of servicing customers easier. Flight Centre has been careful to set up internal systems and procedures that are simple, intuitive and effective, while also offering salespeople the opportunity to sell unique products - things like Captain's Packages that offer Price Drop Protection, insurance that has a Cancel For Any Reason feature, or nine months interest free on holiday purchases.
We know that it’s important to help our team members the best professionals they can be. But we also know that some people are more suited to customer-facing roles than others.
When we hire, we look for passion, love and natural ability in the fields of sales, travel and customer service. We also look for a drive to succeed – where targets are chased and generally achieved.
In essence, we look for a person who fits in with our customer-centric culture, rather than someone who sees servicing our clientele as a chore. We don’t look for people who list ‘good customer service’ on their resume – we look for people who can excitedly explain their passion for putting smiles on people’s faces.
At Flight Centre Travel Group, we live and breathe our number one philosophy - our people.
Our culture is dedicated to looking after people at every stage of their experience with us. It is at the core of our company and is infused into every aspect of it.