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“Goedemorgen mevrouw, heeft u zin om met ons naar Nederland te vliegen?” Een grote glimlach op zijn gezicht verraadt dat hij er lol in heeft. Zijn vrouwelijke collega achter hem, kijkt met een strak gezicht naar een punt ergens 20 centimeter boven mijn hoofd en negeert mijn ‘Goedemorgen deze morgen’. Terwijl ik mijn stoel – 2F – opzoek, zie ik een derde stewardess die vooral druk bezig is met het organiseren van bagage. Want daar hebben wij als reizigers weinig kaas van gegeten, zegt haar gezichtsuitdrukking.

Voor het opstijgen krijgen we de uitleg over de veiligheidsprocedure. Glimlachend zie ik de blije eikel twee rijen voor me. Hij voert zijn routine uit, met veel energie en oogcontact met de verschillende passagiers. Van veiligheidsgordel tot zwemvest, hem krijgen ze vandaag niet uit zijn goede humeur. Achter hem staat de purser van de vlucht haar riedeltje op te dreunen. Ze zucht er nog net niet bij, maar deze norse kastanje heeft er duidelijk weinig zin in.

We vliegen weg en al snel is het tijd voor de hapjes en drankjes. Bij deze maatschappij betaal je voor je eten en drinken en ineens besef ik dat mijn portemonnee in het bagagerek boven mijn hoofd ligt. Toch wil ik een noedelsoep (guilty pleasure, ik geef het toe). De blije eikel neemt de bestelling aan, zegt dat dit ook één van zijn favorieten is en geeft de norse kastanje de opdracht om een ‘noedelsoep voor de knappe mevrouw op 2F’ te maken. Vervolgens beken ik dat mijn portemonnee nog boven me ligt. “Geen enkel probleem mevrouw, dat kan de beste overkomen”, zegt hij enthousiast. De norse kastanje zucht hoorbaar en draait zich om naar het keukentje om mijn noedelsoep te maken. Mijn rugzak komt tevoorschijn, hij maakt nog een grap dat roze ook zijn favoriete kleur is en alle rijen lachen ondertussen mee.

Wat heeft deze man een pret in zijn werk, echt geweldig. Ik weet zeker dat dit de tweede vlucht van zijn werkdag is en dat hij meer dan vroeg zijn bed uit is gekomen. Net als de norse kastanje trouwens, die er ondertussen echt geen zin meer in heeft. De noedelsoep is ze vergeten, en als ik ernaar vraag snauwt ze nog net niet terug.

Twee maanden en vier vluchten met andere airlines verder, herinner ik me nog steeds die ene vlucht, met de puffende purser en de aanstekelijke energie van de vrolijke steward. Die blije eikel die iedereen en dus ook mij een goed gevoel gaf. Dankjewel en ik hoop dat ik snel weer met jou mag vliegen.

 

Dit blog werd geschreven voor CustomerFirst en gepubliceerd op 28 maart 2018

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More and more, I come to the conclusion that this is the missing link in many businesses and a must have when it comes to customer experience. The need for clear promises to customers. To see if this is an issue in your company, please try to answer these questions:

  • How does your company or brand stand out in comparison with your competitors? What is really distinguishing your company when it comes to the offering to your customers?
  • What do you promise your customers when they do business with you? What can they really expect from the product?
  • What kind of service promises do you make to customers? What do you want your customers to experience in which channels?

To deliver great customer experiences, you have to begin with the end in mind

What do you want your customers to experience? Were you able to answer at least 2 of the questions above? No? Now it is time to pay attention. I like to use airlines and cruises as examples. Let’s start with airlines.

Two complete opposites when it comes to flying. RyanAir and Emirates. When diving deeper into Ryanair, they have the brand promise “Low fares, made simple”. Everything they do is translated from this branding principle. The blue and yellow returns everywhere, on their website, banners, even in their planes. As a customer, you know what to expect. The low cost airline in Europe.

When looking at Emirates, they have the brand promise “Comfort and attention to detail you can rely on whenever you travel.” A whole different ball game from a branding perspective and you know what you can expect. Attention to detail, from the greeting in the plane, to the chauffeur service when you fly business class. They focus on a different customer, a different segment as does Ryanair.

Let’s also look at the cruise examples

I have picked three.Carnival is the cruise company I traveled with in 2016. They promise you “Fun for all and all for fun”. Knowing this, it makes it much easier to translate it into actions. Into moments in the customer journey where fun can be delivered. Also where there are possibilities for up and cross sell.

In the cruise business, there are more and another distinguishing brands. One of them is Disney Cruises. As soon as I write it down, you will know. This is all about Mickey and Minnie. As I have been browsing the web, it is still not crystal clear what their brand promise is, but it all comes down to “Creating happiness through magical experiences”.Focusing on families, on entertaining people who love the character experience.

Taking it down a different road is the Monsters of Rock cruise. Yes, a cruise that travels only once a year, fully booked with hard rock fans. No family vacation, but a real niche in the cruising industry. Customers that love hard rock and heavy partying are taking this cruise. So a clear branding, which also easily translates in entertainment, food and beverages. Take a look at their website and browse the FAQ. Their brand identity, has been translated in the way the questions are asked. As would their customers. I love question #9. Not “What kind of food is on board?”. No, it is all aligned with their Hard Rock image “Am I going to starve on board?”.

The key in all these examples, is that it’s about choosing. Who are we to our customers?

Brand promise, customer promises; what is the difference?

Some companies have a brand promise, like Carnival Cruises. Another example I like is KLM. They don’t have a brand promise, but they have customer promises. When looking on their website, you’ll find WHY to fly with KLM. They promise: 1. Direct flights around the globe, 2. Favorable flight schedules, 3. Typo? No charge, 4. Weather in your way? We got your back, 5. 24 hours to cancel, 6. Fly more, benefit more.

See the photo for a clip of the website. Where I especially like the promise “Typo? No charge”. It’s a very specific promise, where they explain: “Booked flights on klm.com and discovered a spelling mistake in the name on your ticket? We don’t charge you for being human. Just contact us via social media to correct your name. Please make sure to have it corrected at least 24 hours before check-in of your first flight starts.”

What I like about this customer promise, is that it addresses a fear that customers have. It reassures customers and takes care of them.

Now it comes back to you. What kind of promises do you make to your customers, or do you want to make to your customers? A promise on the highest level: a brand promise? Or rather customer promises that focus on elements in the customer journey?

What are crucial elements when it comes to choosing brand and/or customer promises?

There’s no easy answer here. But let’s try. When reading the blog of Bruce Jones (Disney Institute), I am attracted to the four elements he claims a brand promise must have from a customers perspective. The four things customers are looking for in a brand promise to be:

  • Important – Customers have expectations regarding the fair exchange of value. In exchange for their money and time, they rightfully expect something meaningful in return. The brand promise must convey what matters most to your customers.
  • Credible – Customers must believe that what you’re promising is possible and deliverable. It has never been good policy to “over-promise” and “under-deliver.”
  • Exclusive – No organization can be successful at trying to be everything for everybody. Find your niche, and carve out a unique space to “own” in the mind of your customer.
  • Differentiating – The brand promise must truly set you apart from your competitors and be based on legitimate differentiators.

I am curious. Do you dare to set yourself and your business apart from other businesses and stand out with an Important, Credible, Exclusive and Differentiating brand promise? Please let me know where you struggle in your company to stand out with your brand promise and maybe I can help you out. Let’s help each other in creating these Great Customer Experiences.