When the caring relationship is at the heart of customer culture

When the caring relationship is at the heart of customer culture

If you’re traveling on Air France’s wings, maybe you’ll notice a little something that enhances your customer experience. This is because the airline has implemented a customer culture based on caring relationships. A culture made possible by the latitude given to its employees.

Products and services can always be copied. But the relationship with clients is different, this way of behaving and acting that results from a state of mind. “This is unique and it’s what makes it stand out from the competition,” says Florence Desert, Culture Client Manager at Air France. The French may not be recognized as the kings of the service, but when we do it well, we do it better than many! “

The caring relationship of the airline’s customer culture of 48,000 employees is based on five attitudes: personalize, value, pay attention, have the sense of detail and dare. Florence Desert will speak about it at the  Client Experience conference presented by Les Affaires events on June 5th in Montreal .

What does it look like, a caring relationship? She is a call center agent who pronounces the first name of the client’s children who book airline tickets for a family trip. These are baggage handling employees who stick a nice word on a suitcase to signal to their owner that they have taken good care of it. Or photograph a dog in the hold to show the master of it that his animal is on board the plane and safe.

“It’s not a process,” says Desert. We do not tell our employees what to do and what to say. We want to surprise customers and to surprise, do not always be in the routine! “

Thus, customer service agents can send a bouquet of flowers to a traveler who has had a problem with his flight. Or a couple on a honeymoon. At the expense of Air France, of course. There are no written rules. It’s the employee who decides.

At airports, Air France counter staff even have some leeway to modify certain airline ticket conditions, if they deem it absolutely necessary.

And these days, the airline is conducting a pilot experiment with a hundred flight attendants. It has unlocked a budget for two scenarios: delight customers who are experiencing a particular situation and make amends to those who have had a bad experience with the service. “If the customer is entitled to compensation and the seafarer thinks that something more needs to be done, he has the freedom, for example, to offer him a bottle of perfume,” explains Florence Desert.

Pass the good news

Every month, the airline invites employees from different departments to participate in “Culture Client Cafes” to discuss their challenges and how this caring relationship is lived on the ground. Employees also exchange good practices and stories through the company’s internal social network. In addition, ambassadors representing all trades meet at “Client Culture Circles” where they attend inspiring guest conferences. They then relay to their colleagues the good ideas they have gathered.

However, it is difficult to ask employees to be very caring with customers if they do not feel valued by managers. “Managerial practices must also evolve to be consistent with the caring relationship,” says Desert. If the employee takes an initiative and his boss is not happy, it can not work. Hence the development of new skills among managers through seminars and training.

“The empowerment of employees changes the posture of the manager, says the speaker. From now on, he is no longer a controller, but a coach. This includes trusting and giving the right to the error. “

Still, the main challenge of a customer culture focused on caring relationships is consistency. “Keep the flame going all the time,” said Florence Desert. It’s never finished. That’s why we created a Customer Culture Branch.

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