Adam Joseph, Founder, CustomerSuccessManager.com
....It might be the best thing that ever happened to you
I am writing this blog at around 35,000 feet on-board an ageing British Airways 747 on-route to Chicago. The scene around me is calm and sedate (I just finished watching LaLa Land for the record – it gets better as the film goes on) the drinks are being served and that horrible waft of reheated airline food is starting to fill my nostrils.
Nothing could be more different to the shambolic scene exactly two hours ago as we entered our third hour of delays sitting on the tarmac in London. Chaos was everywhere; screaming babies, worried passengers with connecting flights trying to get the attention of cabin crew, cabin crew doing their best to ignore them, little (to no) information from the flight deck, people looking at their phones for any type of update. At one point, someone read an update on the BA website saying that the flight would be leaving in thirty minutes which brought a cheer from those around. Those cheers faded to further misery when the 30 minutes came and went and still we had no idea what was going on.
The lack of information about what the problem was, how long it would take to fix and when we would finally get going was causing the mood to become dark and almost mutinous. People were on their phones, calling, emailing, “facebooking” and tweeting (me amongst them) their general displeasure about British Airways. The captain occasionally gave an apologetic update but I got the feeling that he was about in the dark as everyone else.
As I reflect in my uncomfortable economy seat (not made for my 6 foot 3-inch frame but I blame that more on my genetics than the airline) on these recent events, what strikes me the most was that this was the moment for British Airways to shine. I wanted them to show me and my fellow passengers that they cared about us, they had our backs, they were going to make up for their lack of a functioning aircraft with superb service. Alas, this did not happen and if anything, the cabin crew made the situation worse by looking and acting more fed-up than the paying public.
As I referenced in an earlier blog posting, “mistakes happen” and this seems like the ideal time to expand on that point. In my experience, it’s not the actual issue that will cause the most harm, it is how you deal with it that is even more important. Of course, it goes without saying that you want to do everything in your power to stop the problem from happening in the first place. However, deal with a problem the right way and you will win “fans” for life - get it wrong and your name and reputation will take a nose-dive (not sure I should be writing that on a plane but it seems apt).
One of the most important aspects about working in Customer Success means that you are going to have to deal with issues that cause unhappiness and distress. Some will be of your own making and some will be completely unexpected and caused by others. Whether they are due to software bugs, mis-set expectations, lack of customer understanding, poor user interface or that you simply screwed up (as I have many times), customers will generally forgive most problems and judge you on how well you deal with the issue after it happens. Here are my top 10 tips about how you can turn a negative situation into your advantage:
As I started this blog talking about a movie, I thought I would end it with one. One of my favourite scenes from Apollo 13 – the true story of the failed Moon landing mission - was when a NASA Director said “This could be the worst disaster NASA’s ever faced”. Mission Controller Gene Kranz replied “With all due respect, sir, I believe that this is going to be our finest hour”. It was not the failure that the movie was about - it was about the recovery.
Finally – anybody know how I am going to get my connecting flight to Nashville? Wish me luck!