Culture Flub

Online customer feedback takes off

Those who know me know I have been cursed by the air travel gods. So you will not be surprised to learn that on my recent trip to Nashville in May for the World Conference on Quality and Improvement that my flights were delayed by several hours on the way there and the way back; mechanical issues were the culprit.

In the first instance, the delay was going to cause me to miss my connection, so I called the airline to rebook. After the rep and I agreed on my contingency itinerary, I asked, "Is there any sort of accountability here? Do I get any voucher or compensation for my inconvenience?" The rep paused and said: "We really don’t do that anymore." Sigh.

When I asked the same question on social media a few hours later, I was quickly sent a voucher to use toward a future flight.

This raises two issues in my mind:

  • Customer feedback mechanisms are changing: For better or worse, customers are taking to various new media to voice their preferences and pains. Why did my complaint get such immediate attention on Twitter (I didn’t even use my ASQ handle)? I’m not sure, but it’s obvious the airline has put resources toward quickly and efficiently addressing issues in that medium. Does this mean your organization needs to be doing more to look for and act on customer feedback in different channels?
  • Culture: Why were some employees so empowered and responsive, while others seemed clueless even though they represent the same company? Shouldn’t they all be espousing the same values, practices and processes? Shouldn’t the culture ensure that training and messages are consistent?

Both of these issues are addressed in this month’s article mix. First, "Like Abilities" looks at how social media is becoming a prevalent forum for customer feedback—and explains what your organization can do to respond.

The author references an American Express study that showed seven of 10 complaining customers will do business again with the organization if it handles their complaints properly, and 19 of 20 customers will do so if the organization solves their problems quickly. Think of your own experiences—sounds about right to me!

Organizational culture is such a far-reaching concept that it could be argued it’s interwoven in almost every QP article. This month’s mix includes articles on cultures of continuous improvement, including "What’s Your Next Move?" on improving competencies and capabilities to pave the way to bigger wins, and "Assessing the Landscape" on using lean Six Sigma to reveal areas that require the most attention.

Seiche Sanders

Seiche Sanders

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