In 2008, TNT, the market leader in business-to-business (B2B) express delivery services, recognised that it needed to change to reflect the increasing expectations of its customers. Research showed that customer satisfaction depended not just on the process of delivering the service, but also on how the service was carried out.
Whether catering to a select few or serving a mass market, many industries revolve around the customer, no matter which end of the price spectrum you’re at. For example, in 2008 David Neeleman, co-founder of Morris Air, Southwest Airlines and Jet Blue, set up low-cost Brazilian airline, Azul. This offers air travel at a price to rival coach travel. In just four years, Azul has grown become the third major airline in the country. (BBC, 4th October 2012)
Since 2010, Katie Taylor has been chief executive of Canada’s Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. What started in 1961 as a motel in the outskirts of Toronto has grown into a global luxury chain, with hotels from Shanghai to St Petersburg and from Beirut to Buenos Aires. Ms Taylor has planned to open 50 hotels in less than a decade across all territories, including China, Azerbaijan and Tanzania.
Though servicing different types of client, both Azul and Four Seasons have experienced rapid growth and customer feedback is vital to steering that growth.
Mr Neeleman says there is nothing he likes better than to get on planes and talk to customers. He says, ‘Every flight I take, I let them know I’m on board. I go through the cabin; I thank them for their business. I say: Please give me your complaints, your compliments; I want to hear it all. I can’t fix something if I don’t know if it’s broken.’
For Ms Taylor, the voice of the employee is just as important as the voice of the customer. ‘We do employee opinion surveys, in which we talk to employees about how they’re feeling about the company generally and their place of work. But we also do management opinion surveys asking employees directly about how their managers are performing and whether or not they’re getting the kind of support, the leadership they need.’
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