Lack of Constancy Kills Trust 

I had just arrived home from speaking at a conference, and had a 24 hour turn around before I needed to get back on another plane to coach 200+ leaders. As a frequent guest on Air Canada air crafts, I experience jet lag on a regular basis. However, this instance was a particularly intense case (given the 10 flights I had taken within the last 15 days). I went to check in to my flight to San Juan and was offered an upgrade to business class for a small fee. Feeling tired and wanting to be pampered on my 5+ hour flight, I opted in to the upgrade. I entered all the appropriate information only to get a message stating that the upgrade was no longer available. Disappointed (and knowing that technology isn’t always reliable) I exited out of the Air Canada App and tried again; no bueno. Same message.

I was running around trying to complete some errands before my Saturday morning flight, and didn’t have the time or patience to deal with this. I did however want comfort, so I called customer service.

The Call for Help

I called into the elite customer service line, which had a 22 minute wait time; I opted to be called back. Once I got the call back, the young man on the other end asked how he could help. I proceeded to tell him my situation and without a pause he said he could not help me. Just like that- there is nothing I can do for you. “Try again” he said “maybe on a computer this time,” and with that, the conversation was over. 

So I tried again. No success. You can imagine how frustrated I felt at this point. I couldn’t give them my money and all I wanted was some help.

The Bad Outweighs the Good

It is said that it takes 12 positive interactions to make up for one negative interaction. From a customer stand point, each time there is a service failure you have to work 12x harder to make up for it. Let’s count how many negative interactions I had in this one instance with Air Canada technology and personnel: two tries on a faulty app, a phone call with no help, care, or compassion, and another 5 attempts on my computer. That is a total of 8 negative interactions with this brand in one afternoon.  At this point my trust account with Air Canada was in the negative. 

When you are in service recovery mode, it is so important that you make it right the first time to regain the trust of your customer. 

Unfortunately technology doesn’t always work, yet it replaces the need for human interference and correction. Is your team prepared to help when technology fails?

A Second Call

Now I was angry, so I did what any other customer would do; call the customer service line again thinking there must be a way to make the upgrade on their end. 

Another 25 minute wait, and I finally got in touch with a lovely customer service representative. She was delightful and very helpful. She listened, said she was sorry, and worked every back-end possibility to help me. Finally, I had success! She was able to secure my upgrade, charge me, and email the confirmation all in a friendly and genuine manner. 

When I hung up the phone I couldn’t help but ask myself; why couldn’t the first customer service representative do that for me? He would’ve saved me hours of frustration and kept my trust with the brand intact. 

Lessons to Learn from this Story 

As a customer experience expert in designing and training CX programs, the answer came quite quickly to me; there is a lack of consistency in the hiring, training, and delivery of their service recovery program. Here are a few take-a-ways that will help you increase your customer’s trust in your brand.

1. Develop a Service Recovery System

Service Recovery is an integral part of the guest’s experience; how we handle a service failure is equally as important as delivering your brand standards. Service Recovery is a thought-out, well planned process that returns dissatisfied customers to a state of satisfaction and trust with your brand.  Your service Recovery System should also be an experience just as your primary brand standards are. The goal: to have your customers be delighted with the memory of the fix; so much so that they can’t even remember the problem.

2. Train for Consistency

Consistency will set you apart from your competition. On the flip side, inconsistency can kill the trust your customers have with your brand. Keeping in mind that it takes 12 positive interactions to make up for one negative interaction, it is in your company’s best interest to ensure consistency in the delivery of your brand standards and service recovery system. Had Air Canada’s first customer service representative done what the second one did for me I would have been delighted, and trust would have remained intact. We live in a fast paced world filled with inconsistency; to keep your customer’s trust and loyalty, you must give them what the rest of the world doesn’t. You need to be reliable and consistent. 

3. Follow up

If you want to show you care and truly wow your customers, follow up with them to ensure they are satisfied and thank them for their loyalty. Showing you care goes a long way in restoring a customer’s trust and faith in your brand, yet it is a step in the customer service recovery journey that is most often overlooked. 

If you want to keep your customer’s trust after a service failure, then you must develop a service recovery system that your people will have no problem consistently delivering; every customer, every time. 

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