A computering Boomer & nutrition maniac, who Lives to Read, laugh & help others. I Love God, my family, and the business of changing the world.
Everywhere you look, especially every social platform on the internet ,
you see something about United Airlines latest public relations fiasco.
I have no desire to jump on that bandwagon here- like everyone else, I had
enough fun with it on my personal page. What I do want to talk about is
their customer service mindset.
Got a few thoughts, based on what normal everyday business people
do when their business has a problem.
I would Love for United Airlines CEO to adopt the concepts, though they may seem
too radical for him to grasp, although, I am not really writing this for the airline,
as I do not believe that they give one fig of shit what I, or any other small business person thinks.
I am writing it as advice for small business owners who want their business to grow,
their customers to love them and remain loyal to them, and to be able to sleep at night
without nightmares of screaming humans being dragged down airplane aisles
gestapo style, like something out of a bad Hollywood movie.
I’ve heard several different versions of what happened. Some said the airline
over booked, others said they simply had 4 employees that needed the seats
so they could fly to the destination city in order to be available to work their next shifts.
I know there are also airline stipulations (as well as some legal regulations) stating
that the airline can remove passengers anytime for any reason and there is nothing
the passenger can do about it… blah blah blah.
Regardless of the reasons for needing the seats or what their regulations ALLOW,
the bottom line is this:
If United had a 21st century Customer Centric culture and mindset, NONE of these
incidences-along with the messes in the past (can you hum a few bars of “We Busted
A Customer’s Guitar & Didn’t Seem To Care?”) – would or could have happened.
But even if a company doesn’t have a customer centric mindset, at least they should
have some damned common human decency.
So I’m just gonna make it short and sweet…because common sense and decency
is NOT exactly rocket science.
1. STOP over booking, and if you must- and ONLY if you must- then by golly you
treat those inconvenienced customers like GOLD. The fault is NOT theirs. The
book and PAY in good faith. The FAULT (did you notice that word FAULT) is
yours … accept it and grovel in good faith. It is NEVER a customers
responsibility to to fix a company’s mistakes.
2. Just because you CAN do something, does NOT mean you should. (learned
that when I was 7)
3. STOP exercising your “right” to physically abuse or arrest people that are NOT
terrorist suspects. That is why you have the ability to do that. NOT because
some customers or people are rude or loud or obnoxious, or do not do what you want especially while the damned plane is still on the ground, at the terminal, still loading, the door is still open, and you KNOW is going nowhere because
You DO NOT REMOVE CUSTOMERS AGAINST THEIR WILL
UNLESS THEY ARE TRULY A DANGER TO THE FLIGHT AND TO OTHERS
…not based on some airline (trumped up-far reaching) excuse that YOU
created by over booking or faulty scheduling.
4. If indeed those employees did need to get to the destination city in time for their
next shift- you could have put the four of them in a luxury rented Prevost bus-
complete with caviar, champagne and a years supply of gold napkins for less
than what you paid the other passengers to disembark, the damage to your
brand by everyone who has seen the video (which is pretty much everyone in
the western hemisphere and at least half the eastern)
and a heck of a lot less than what the lawsuit is going to cost you. (which even if
it were more (it’s not) it was still your mistake.. so eat it!
Now I know that sometimes the destination city might be farther away than a 5 hour drive (those times would be very few and far between IF you had better employee scheduling) however, in those cases where it does become an issue, you STILL DO NOT drag customers bodily from the plane.
People will give up their seats voluntarily IF they are offered an amount of money to justify their inconvenience. If no one takes the bait ($800 bucks is not a good amount) then it may be due to reasons that would make not arriving on time a serious issue for them and since they booked with you in good faith, you have a complete responsibility and obligation to honor that.
Figure out something else. That is what any other company in the world has to do when
they create a problem for themselves.
So, dear smbiz owner, put this advice in your pipe and smoke it, write in your company manual, have your CEO scream it from the roof tops – seriously, all things like this MUST come from the top down- and have your employees watch videos about what you expect from them regarding the customers, and then have them sign papers stating they understand the company mindset and expectations.
Memorize this mantra:
Inconveniencing our customers because of OUR mistakes is never an option,
and abusing them is down right criminal.
Bad Economies Do Not Shut Down Most Restaurants.
Ovation Brands, the “newer” owners of most of the buffet restaurants in this country
(Country Buffet, Old Country Buffet, Ryan’s, etc) announced the closing of
approximately one fifth of their restaurants.
As a small business consultant and coach who advocates for building solid foundations
for all small businesses, and resident of this planet, I hate to hear of all the closures,
not just because of the loss of jobs for so many, or because it was favorite eating spot
for a lot of people (Hi Grandma!) and they will miss it, but more so, because,
I hate to see any business fail, especially when I believe that almost all failures
I hear many people throwing the bad economy (yes IT IS to bad- most people are
out of work and on some form of gov’t assistance or underemployed- but that is
another story all together) up as a reason for the closures, but although it played
a part, it was not nearly the culprit most would like to believe.
All you need to do is look around at the ones that are “standing room only” 4-5 nights a week.
There is no bad economy at work there. Nor are there hordes of people forking over their cash,
who are unhappy with the service, the food, the prices or the atmosphere.
Yes, a lot of businesses do fail in bad economies (lost 3 myself thanks to the disaster in ‘08),
but there are usually a lot of other reasons for the closures/losses/bankruptcies that are closer
to the real culprit, but understanding or admitting this takes some real thought and major guts,
and most people (especially the peeps at the top) refuse to do the former, and quite frankly,
do not have the latter.
It takes guts to say, “I was so stuck on “ME” that I refused to consider that what I know or think
I know might not have been right for this time or circumstance, so I just kept forcing everyone to
do the same old tired useless crap while I watched it flounder and flounder until
it gasped it’s last breath.”
Bad practices from the powers that actually had the ability to do something about it –
is the major reason.
I have seen them foolishly tie hands, refuse to consider a pivot or to fund new innovations
as “too risky” or insist on standing on the worn out practices of yesterday, all the while placing
the blame for failure on the local level management or staff.
The willingness to think outside the box and pivot matters in today’s economic situation more
than any time in our recent history, because we are in the middle of
a complete societal and economic change. One that is ending the industrial revolution
and bringing in a new economic base, one that we have yet to figure out.
Will it be an informational base, a service base, a tech base, or a destructive base
(which WILL happen when socialism gets a bit more entrenched)
Yes, there is a wise adage that says “when you fail, try try again”. And those are
great words to live by if you understand what they mean. They do NOT mean we
are to keep trying the same faulty things that failed each time.
As the saying goes, and NO, Einstein did NOT say it, “The definition of insanity is
doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome.”
The saying actually means, Keep trying until you Succeed.
(or to be even more clear- Keep trying different things until you FIND what DOES work
and you are no longer failing) Duh!
Everyone and their dog has heard this, except apparently, the C level of most
“failing” corporations, (Roll of the eyes goes here.) and that’s a shame.
And therein lies the problem with most C’s. They are so removed from reality
that they are still living and doing business as they did in the 20th century.
Yes, they are savvy enough to admit that the internet is more than a fad, but they still
refuse to SEE or acknowledge that it has changed the world and the way the world
does business. Forever.
And I suppose that that is why in the last decade (YES, I said decade for heaven sake)
or so of lagging sales, the idiot CEO’s of this chain (both old and the new) did not take
it upon themselves to look around, see what year it was, and learn how to pivot.
When sales are down and the business model is tired… you do not keep dragging it along
in dirty pajamas, you figure out a way refresh it and Pivot. Then you market that pivot
to the world (or whatever your demo is) so they know you have changed.
This is more true in restaurants than anything since tastes change, and new foods and
ways of eating pop up over time. To stay the same and ignore the reality of life is just dumb.
Sorry to see you go, as are the people you employed and the neighborhoods you occupied.
Just Do It!
Jump in with both feet.
You hear it all the time…. but should you follow it.
NO. A big resounding, NO.
NO NO NO
Yes it’s true, that the advice to just go for it is great advice
in regards to actually getting up off the pot
and doing something other than dreaming. Or wishing.
Or even worse…Whining.
You’ve heard the adage…
either “rid yourself of your excrement or get up off the toilet”,
and that is fantastic advice
But while getting started IS the first step, it is not quite that simple
or maybe a better way to say it is,
the first step is to Decide that Yes, I am Going to DO It, and do it NOW.
THEN you begin the other steps- working on the details,
which are just as important or you can FAIL.
And by fail I mean, lose a lot of time, money and energy
or even get your self sued and suffer financially for the rest of your life.
Don’t be stupid. Don’t be irresponsible. Don’t do this to yourself.
What should be one of the Best decisions you’ll ever make (and it really is)
can also be your worst nightmare if you Just jump in and Do It
and worry about the details later
Don’t let this frighten you.
Just like the other incredible things you have gifted your life with,
like falling in love, having children, traveling, getting your degree,
or even getting & staying healthy, it comes at a price and to do it right,
it takes TIME, effort and attention to details.
The details Matter. They ALWAYS do in anything important.
Don’t sweat the small stuff may sound good as a title of a book or a bumper sticker
but the premise is really only smart when dealing with the little things that others do
that could cause us to over react. Other than that, if you want strong solid “anything”
you had better sweat the small stuff…. it keeps you from having to sweat the Big stuff
Try building a house with a weak, shoddy, slapped together in haste,
or even missing, foundation. It won’t tolerate very much weight without crumbling.
Everything you build on top of it is wasted and will eventually be lost.
Why do that to yourself, your money, your future, or even your family or employees?
You owe it to yourself, to not waste your money or time.
You owe it to your Creator, to be a good steward of all He has gifted you with.
You owe it to your family and employees who are counting on you to do things right.
You owe it to the world, who needs intelligent generous people to help make it a better place
So, be smart. Be prudent. Use the wisdom of others.
Get a step by step guide, Use it and get those ducks in a row
Build your foundation well.
Make it strong and solid and it will hold up under almost anything
you want to build on it
Turns out, managing“Like a Boss” sometimes makes you
a boss, even if you are NOT the Boss.
“Employee misclassification” has led to lawsuits against companies including Uber and FedEx— businesses that
rely on contract workers to fill customer demand without taking on the overhead of hiring full-time employees.
According to the Department of Labor, businesses must
apply the “economic realities” test when classifying a worker as an employee or an independent contractor. This test focuses on whether the worker is “economically dependent” on the company or “in business for him or herself.”
Lots of wonderful information in here for independent contractors as well
as the business owners who contract with them.
Number 5 is a perfect example of how to handle a top complaint of contractors. The “controlling” business owner who drives you crazy
trying to micro manage everything you do.
Whether they want complete approval over every action before you do it,
or just want to tell you “How” to do it
From ending the financially foolish practice of turning
yourself into a commodity by charging by the hour to being told what to do and how to do it, it all adds up to one great “Here’s the deal” statement
Just one of many reasons to offer a “controlling” client for
leaving you alone to do your job
If they micro manage you and want to approve everything
you do, then the DOL (Department of Labor) will likely consider you an employee and they will then owe wages, healthcare insurance, vacation
and other assorted taxes
If that doesn’t shut them up and have them leave you alone
…then they are truly too “__” to be your client. Fire Them.
“A company can’t be a Conscious Capitalism company if the very top people in the organization aren’t completely committed to it and completely adamant about it.
It just can’t happen,” he says. “I think CEOs are really overrated in American business, but when it comes to this type of belief system, it doesn’t happen unless those top people have a strong culture in place.”
And sometimes many of the supposed “Great, New, Innovative,
Going to right all the wrongs business ideas” are just as “really over-rated” as
those above mentioned CEOs.
I was reading an article over at Inc about Conscious Capitalism and how wonderful
it was for a particular CEO & his company, and could not help but wonder what the reality was.
(yet his stock prices were all over the place)
No one seems to mention that in order for any of this to work, “Those in the lower ranks”
would also need to have a strong culture in place, since human nature is not
always geared to “doing the right thing” and entitlement usually becomes the status quo.
I know this because-not only am I old (by most standards) and have lived and worked
(for decades) with people on both sides of the economic and management/ownership fence-
but I have also been a student of people and people just DO NOT “do the right thing”
on a regular basis and/or without compensation (bribery).
(show me anywhere where I am wrong-Please, I beseech you!)
My Disclaimer: Let me say First, that I am Totally on board and “IN LOVE”
with the idea of Conscious Capitalism. I loathe greed and avarice as well
as selfish people that believe they are in this world for one reason only:
I think that business (capitalism) is the best & easiest way to make the
world a better place for everyone that you can, and have always lived
by that creed.
I have also, ALWAYS been an employer who LOVED being in business
and who loved (even more-if possible) being in a position to use my success
to bless (or help out-if you feel safer with this) others who I come across
anywhere in my world.
No one but a controlling boor or a blind baboon would think that
treating employees badly is humane, much less “good for business”,
but going over board in the opposite direction can be just as bad.
Being someone who not only spent 20 years (from age 15 to 35) in the lower ranks,
(or “Not one of the Top people) working in places that treated employees like gold
while said employees became entitled and complacent, I believed that done
properly treating employees like stakeholders and owners would work to
Never saw it. At least, not anywhere I ever worked and certainly NOT
in my own businesses.
So, I find myself Very skeptical of the so-called success of such an ideal.
I would like to see the mid to long range numbers on this,
to believe that it is a viable business strategy and not a “factor” on the
road to bankruptcy.
~Why were the company’s numbers roller coastering prior to going public?
~What are their numbers before employees knew about “going public”.
~What are they going to be when things settle down?
~Where else has this strategy been implemented and what were the outcomes?
The need for constant and “interesting” content creates a lot of interesting (read wild )
thoughts and ideas that get pushed out as credible ways to “do” business, and
it is becoming harder and harder to wade through the fluff, nonsense, and unicorn dust
to get to the credible, valuable ideas that DO actually work in the real world.
Many businesses suck to work for and their owners ARE jerks, but so are many employees
and some of these ideas are just “shake my head” fiction as far as viable working strategies
(at least for long term) in the real world
A bankrupt business is of no use to society, the economy, the business owner, his future,
or the laid off employees.
No one can say with a straight face, that management and some “corporate” creeds do not
need to be overhauled, but taking the focus off the purpose for being in business and placing
it on employees, instead of how to responsibly create a bottom line that serves the purpose of the
business as well as the needs of those involved is like tossing the baby out with the bathwater
because washing it involved it making the water dirty.
(Yes you read it right, it WAS a cliche. I LOVE them! I do not write to amuse or entertain,
I write to get valid information out and sometimes cliche’s are the most expedient way of doing that)
When you have “Been there. Done that” and watched human nature triumph over good intentions
time and time again, you are wise to stand back, measure everything and just say
….show me the money BEFORE you implement major change simply because they sound
all warm and fuzzy.
A well thought out vision statement can be the difference between the bankruptcy of a billion dollar company and its unbridled success. “
Ford CEO Alan Mulally is credited with one of the greatest turnarounds in American business history. And Steve Jobs is no slouch himself when it comes to “saving/creating a mega company”
They took companies that were sliding south, created a compelling vision, simplified it so
it was understandable to anyone who heard it, rewrote it so that it could fit onto the back
of a business card (and did)
The difference with these men and most companies is the vision is NOT just a word.
They believed it and were able to get everyone else at the company to also believe it
In June, a federal court ruled that Hobby Lobby, the art-supply chain, could not be fined for refusing to offer its employees morning-after contraception coverage. Hobby Lobby is not alone in identifying itself as a Christian business. What about bigger questions, like how management treats and how much it pays its workers?
Although this article is originally from Aug 2013, it is just as timely today due to the latest Supreme Court Rulings on Christian principles and health care benefits for small business, along with the continual arguments for lowering the overall standard of living for those in entry level jobs by raising the minimum wage
In preparing for an upcoming book on Christians principles in business, I came across this article and felt compelled to comment on the statements made by Douglas A. Hicks, a Presbyterian minister, the provost of Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y., and the author of “Religion and the Workplace,”.
While I really enjoyed the article and felt it was pretty spot on, I am NOT a huge fan of anyone who puts themselves out somewhere as an authority on something they have never done.
to have an opinion (usually based on an agenda that is anti business) on how those who do “DO” business are
doing it wrong.
“Are people able to live out their own agency by making a contribution in the workplace?” is, according to Mr. Hicks, a question Christians should ask. Do employees have meaningful work, or just repetitive, low-paid, mind-numbing work?”
What about our oreo’s. Do we WANT them to all BE different in size and shape because each person at the bakery, decided to BE creative and even more important, will we Pay 3x more for customized cookies and the packaging issues it would cause? History says NO, unless they are artisan cookies and that is a totally different demographic. (so don’t even think about going there)
Don’t we WANT our underwear to BE UNIFORM in size, shape, fit AND PRICE so that when we make that purchase they ARE what we expected.
Few could argue that most business is comprised of “work” done by “workers” and “real” work is usually mind numbing, repetitious, boring, sometimes hard, and unless skilled, low paying.
No one is suggesting for even a nano second that it is EVER OK to exploit your workers or treat them like dirt
and any business that would do that is NOT operating in a humane manner, much less a Christian one. But neither
should a business be compelled by the clueless opinions of the uninformed or the rantings of fluff maggots (who live life to TAKE from those who HAVE EARNED) to over compensate someone who brings very little value to the table (this has nothing to DO with the value of their person hood, BTW) or make bad business decisions.
and that does NOT entail over-paying someone for a job (whether at the top or the bottom)
A smart business pays its people the highest wage the position and market will afford in order to reward those who do a good job and to keep the competition from luring (I love that word-it sounds SO decadent) them away.
Making sure your business is on solid financial ground is a responsibility every Christian business owner has, not only to God, to themselves, their family and the future, but also to their employees, their families and their future.
As the Proverbs 31 Lifestyle strategist always says, “Smart Christian business owners should run their business as well as their life with the expectation and the Hope of hearing,
Image courtesy of nytimes.com