Customer Service Training Program Guidelines
Strive for the Impossible

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On Feb. 14, 2012, the airlines received a positive report from the Transportation Department's Bureau of Transportation Statistics - the best December for on-time arrivals in 17 years. The report noted that flights arrived on time (within 15 minutes of the published arrival time) 84.4 percent of the time and only.08 percent of flights were canceled. It was a great improvement from the previous December, in which only 72 percent of flights were on time and 3.7 percent were canceled.

It must be noted that some delays are inevitable. It a mechanical problem is discovered, it has to be corrected - and better to do it while the plane is still on the ground than to find out there is something wrong after it is 30,000 feet in the air. And the weather must be factored in as well. Actually, weather was the main reason behind the greatly improved performance report - it was a mild December with few winter storms.

So, while the improvement is welcome, is this really an example of good customer service? This is not an attack on the airline industry, but would you really consider it good service when approximately 20 percent of flights still did not arrive on time, even when given a 15-minute grace period? If that is the standard, there are problems here.

Would you be willing to accept a 20 percent failure rate from another product or service? What if your car did not start 20 percent of the time? Every fifth time you got in your car to go to work, or an important appointment, or anywhere, it did not start - you would lose jobs, sales, probably even friends!

Would you consider a surgeon who was known to botch every fifth operation? How would your employer feel if you decided it was okay to skip a day of work each week? It's only 20 percent - but it probably wouldn't take many weeks of that before you were told to not come in the other days either.

The customer service lesson is a simple one - no matter how good your customer service is, the product/service that you are selling also has to perform properly. If your product fails, your customers will lose confidence, and eventually, loyalty. And you will lose the customer.

The goal is perfection. 100 percent. Even if in reality it may not be attainable, it must be what you are striving for. It is not enough to aim for "good enough" or "most of the time." You need two things - a product or service that performs as it is meant to, and to deliver it with a strong customer service training program. This is the winning combination that will keep customers coming back . Eventually, what will happen is that the customer will own the experience, and you have created customer confidence. Having all those elements in place - a strong product, excellent customer service and customer confidence - is what creates customer loyalty.

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