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Can the staffing industry really learn a lesson on customer service from Qantas, of all companies?

I see a lot of the inside of planes. Being responsible for a recruitment business in upwards of 25 cities, in 15 countries, takes care of that. And I have been a Qantas “Platinum Frequent Flyer” for 8 years straight as a result.

Lately I have been assessing why I usually fly Qantas, as I have been getting more and more aggrieved at the airlines pricing policy. Seriously, Qantas regularly have Business Class seats at TWICE the price of comparable airlines to places like Shanghai, Tokyo, Mumbai or London. Some of my business is going the way of Singapore Airlines as a result.

So why do I automatically tend to fly Qantas? Well it’s a tiny part patriotism I suppose. Qantas is the ‘Australian national carrier ‘after all. It is definitely partly due to the great safety record, because we all have that nagging fear when we get on a plane. But mostly, it’s the reassuring sound of an Australian accent as you get on the plane with a kangaroo on its tail after a week or two in the US, Asia or Europe. That, and the chance to read Aussie newspapers and drink Australian wine! Seems strange, but it just makes you feel “home” before you get home.

But as I mentioned, Qantas has been flirting dangerously with loosing me as customer (not that they care, I am sure) because of their outrageous pricing and their inflexible Frequent Flyer redemption system, both of which can make your blood boil.

So to be fair I must report a very small, but very nice piece of customer relationship building from Qantas, that resonated with me recently.

Last week I was flying to Perth from Sydney, a domestic flight in Australia, but still nearly 5 hours in the tin can, so not much fun, particularly if you are flying economy class as I invariably do in Australia. I was crunched up in what felt like row 500 Z, knees against the seat in front, jacket on my lap, and laptop awkwardly perched on the tiny tray table, when the immaculately dressed “purser” (flight attendant in charge) emerged from behind the Business Class curtain and discretely made his way down the back, to me.

Purser: “Mr Savage nice to see you again. Welcome aboard”

Me (nervously wondering if they saw me pocket the magazines in the lounge), “Err yes, thanks”

Purser: “Mr Savage, I notice you are a Platinum flyer. Thanks so much for choosing Qantas again. May I hang up your coat in the front locker?”

Me: “Err sure, that would be helpful”

Purser: “And would you like a newspaper Mr Savage.”

Me: “Yes thanks. Financial Review”

Purser: “ And of course wine is complimentary on this flight Mr Savage, but I do have a particularly nice Shiraz in Business Class, if I can get you a glass or two”

Me: “Well, yes, thanks very much”

Purser: ”Pleasure sir. Let me know if you need anything else. Just want you to know we greatly appreciate your regular flying with Qantas”

Me: (dumbstruck). “Err right. Thanks”

All this was done very quietly and discretely, without alerting any other passengers, which I would have found most embarrassing. He did it with such charm and sincerity, that even I, a gnarled old cynic, felt a warm glow of appreciation.

It cost Qantas little I am sure to make this happen. Their system will flag Platinum flyers, so it just takes the effort, and the training, I suppose. And I have to say as a wavering customer, this small gesture went a long way to bringing me back into the fold so to speak.

Everyone likes to be recognised. Everyone likes to feel appreciated.

As I savoured my Business Class Shiraz, I thought about customer service and customer relationship building and how we could do it better in recruitment. Do we take the time to thank clients for their custom, at a personal level like this? And what about our long term temp workers? Do they feel appreciated?

Sometimes it’s the smallest gesture that makes the biggest impact.

I am going to be thinking hard about that for Aquent and our clients and talent.

Views: 35

Comment by Charles Van Heerden on September 1, 2009 at 1:51am
Great story Greg, and living in Melbourne I use Qantas frequently as well. It is the small things that makes the real difference.
Comment by Suzanne M King on September 1, 2009 at 12:04pm
So nice to hear about a positive customer service experience. Certainly does motivate us to go above and beyond for our clients, doesn't it?
Comment by Carly Eriksen on September 17, 2009 at 9:16am
Yes great story Greg. If only Ansett had bothered with customer service like Qantas they may still be around today. Flying in the UK with lots of small airlines like Ryanair and Easyjet you really do begin to appreciate the little things that airlines like Qantas and BA do, and accept that you get what you pay for.

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