What Stories Are Your Customers Telling About Your Values?

Etihad Airways turns plane around for elderly couple to meet their dying grandchild

That headline signaled as much about the core values of the organization as it did about the story. It was a small article not picked up across the media landscape, though it did make the local papers in parts, here, of the Middle East.

Like a beacon, our organizations send out multiple signals daily. From new hires to people interviewing, from customer interaction to the customer facing personnel, the signal beeps 24/7.

There has been a lot written lately about the United Airlines fiasco and others. What was the effect on the people that were in queue  waiting to be interviewed for jobs? What about the job offers that were sitting on someone’s computer? What about the employee who was at the dinner party and someone ask you where you work?

How likely are your customers to recommend your brand to others?

All these situations cry out because of that signal that has permeated every airspace. However, as I read the article about Etihad Airways I thought of the signals that infiltrated the passengers on board. Some may have been a little upset that the plane was turning around, but for the most part, Etihad had just created a plane full of ambassadors as the airline with a heart as opposed to a “club.” Each one of those passengers will tell and retell that story. Each one of those passengers will filter that scenario as they prepare to make upcoming travel plans

Our brand is a very delicate aura and we can lose it in the blink of an eye. This is why it is so perplexing to me how companies or employees make decisions without using their core values as the ultimate filter.

My choice and why

As someone who flies internationally about 3 weeks out of the month, service is paramount to me. My airline of choice is Qatar Airways. Even if the flight cost is a little higher at booking, they will always get my business; always greeted as a valued customer, always looking for ways to enhance the experience. I call them the “5 Star Airline,” The Ritz Carlton of the airways, and not just for frequent flyers like myself but for the customers in economy as well.

Flight attendants offer unparalleled service throughout the flight and make sure customers’ needs are well taken care of. Call customer service and over the phone you can feel the concern they have to solve the issue. When customers are happy, they are more likely to become a sought after brand ambassador. I am hooked.

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The equation is simple

This is what happens when the customer experience is enhanced, whether you are in the airline business or selling TV’s. Your customer has an array of choices, whether it is online or across the street. To be competitive today the only advantage you have is your people.

Smart companies today should empower and look for every opportunity to WOW the customer. No stone should be left unturned in this pursuit. The loyalty that is created is a bond that will not be easily fractured. Each encounter, if done correctly further cements that bond.

Your customers want more than just your products or services. Remember, you have to go above and beyond. You need to make choosing your brand a singular experience. When it’s an experience, people will talk about it.

Think about what your brand offers and how you position yourself. What sets you apart from your competition? Why should consumers choose you over anyone else?

What story are your customers telling about their experience?

Ron Thomas is Managing Director, Strategy Focused Group DWC LLC, based in Dubai. He is also a senior faculty member and representative of the Human Capital Institute covering the MENA/Asia Pacific region.

He was formerly CEO of Great Place to Work-Gulf and former CHRO based in Riyadh. He holds certifications from the Human Capital Institute as Global Human Capital Strategist, Master Human Capital Strategist, and Strategic Workforce Planner.

He's been cited by CIPD as one of the top 5 HR Thinkers in the Middle East. He received the Outstanding Leadership Award for Global HR Excellence at the World Human Resources Development Congress in Mumbai, and was named as one of the 50 Most Talented Global HR Leaders in Asia

Ron's prior roles included senior HR positions with Xerox HR services, IBM, and Martha Stewart Living.

Board memberships include the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council, McKinsey Quarterly's Executive Online Panel, and HCI's Expert Advisory Council on Talent Management Strategy.

His work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, Workforce Management and numerous international HR magazines covering Africa, India and the Middle East.

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