Listening to customers, understanding them, and then delivering on these expectations is a necessity in delivering great customer service. Customer-centric leaders live by this approach and have made it an integral part of their success.
Edouard Piquet, senior vice president of customer experience at Aeromexico, lives and breathes this approach and is very passionate about it. "In a competitive and dynamic environment, it's essential to know the point of view of your clients," he stresses. "You need to know what you do well and what needs immediate attention. And you need to know this in real-time."
An important part of Piquet's role is developing and managing the airline's customer experience and voice of the customer programs. Since he joined Aeromexico in May 2012, he has established a systematic approach to capture customer feedback, linking survey results to a feed file which aggregates more than 200 fields for every client on each flight. This allows Aeromexico to measure NPS for practically every single field, for example the seat number, flight attendant, or pilot.
Piquet himself spends a good portion of his time talking with customers face-to-face at the customer service bureau and also contacting them directly as part of Aeromexico's closed-loop feedback program. "You need to hear the story from the horse's mouth," he says, adding that clients also like being heard and are always surprised to hear from the company. His proactive approach is encouraging colleagues to follow in his footsteps, and even the company's CEO has made direct calls to dissatisfied customers. This has helped the airline regain more than 3,000 customers which would otherwise have gone elsewhere since early 2012.
The next step is to use this feedback to drive continuous improvement within the company and also prioritize areas that need immediate attention. For example, very early on, the VOC program revealed the most evident pain points, including announcements about flight delays at boarding gates. "Customers said they never knew what was going on, neither the cause of the delay nor the time of departure," he says. Today Aeromexico makes announcements about delayed flights every 15 minutes, explaining the cause of delay, the time of departure, and where applicable an apology. Further, agents introduce themselves by name so that affected customers can make a link with a real human being who is accountable.
Piquet is a firm believer in the need to share customer insights throughout the organization and sends real-time online results to senior management. Further, Piquet immediately shares direct customer feedback, including from his conversations with customers, across the organization, including with pilots, boarding agents, flight attendants, and maintenance engineers, to make sure they understand the customer's perspective. The airline's CEO, for example, has a VOC dashboard on a monitor in his office and for the first time, every executive has contributed an NPS goal this year. "When your bonus depends on the customers' satisfaction, everyone becomes interested," Piquet says.
Forward-thinking business leaders know that listening to customers is important. For Aeromexico, the results underline this necessity. Within a year of the implementation of the VOC program the company has seen an increase in NPS in five different surveys, translating into an additional $12 million in profit. For example, NPS among customers who experience delays has gone up by more than 20 points in one year. "Our program is not a quick solution. It's a long term cultural change," Piquet says.