The global uproar over the forced removal of a passenger on a United Airlines flight last week has brought to light many questions regarding customer care. Here are some of the many I heard or read over the last several days:
How could something like this ever happen? Is an airline legally allowed to forcibly drag someone off of the plane? The next time I fly United can they do this to me? Did the CEO really try to discredit and dishonor the passenger instead of apologizing?
After breaking his nose, damaging his sinuses and knocking out his two front teeth while dragging him off of the plane – why didn’t United just proceed to run the plane over the passenger since it doesn’t seem to care about its customers?
Incidents like this raise awareness and question the actions of public companies that are often placed in the spotlight only when things go terribly wrong.
How companies handle these crises can dictate how we perceive these businesses for years to come. ExxonMobil and Johnson & Johnson were applauded for how they handled their public relations crises and survived the Exxon Valdez oil spill and the poisoning of Tylenol capsules respectively in the 1980s. And then there are the likes of BP (Gulf Spill), Volkswagen (emissions crisis) and now United whose more recent transgressions haven’t fared as well in the public spotlight.
For me, as it relates to my dealings with any organization, it all comes down to one essential question: Does the company have a Customer Connecting Culture?
I have written about the importance of strengthening one’s connecting core to become a master connector as it relates to individuals connecting with one another. The connecting core is comprised of 4 key ‘muscles’:
Super WHY – Living and breathing your “WHY” each and every day
Authenticity – Being open, honest and coming from the heart
Fearless Mindset – Moving through fear into courage
Empathy – Standing in the shoes of your customer
Those that master these core components can reap the benefits of powerful connections.
These same principles apply to how companies can connect with their target customers.
If an organization embodies the principles of the connecting core, it can benefit from powerful connections with its customers. These connections can yield brand loyalty, trust, goodwill and years of returning, satisfied customers. Strong connections with your customer base fuel growth and profitability for decades. On the other hand, if a company fails to show signs of a Customer Connecting Culture, customers may feel neglected, discarded and could choose to take their business elsewhere.
Take an internal look into your company or organization to see if a Customer Connecting Culture exists:
Do the leaders embody a ‘connecting culture’?
Do the leaders of the company live and breathe the company’s WHY each and every day? Do the customers know the company’s WHY?
Is the communication to the customers authentic? Do they feel they’re being treated openly and honestly by all of the members of the organization? Has the company established a level of TRUST with its customers?
Does the organization put forth a fearless mindset when communicating with its customers? More specifically, does the company put its customers first – ahead of the board of directors, investors, shareholders and even its own employees?
Most importantly, does the company show empathy towards its customers? Do they truly value, understand and appreciate their point of view? Does the organization preach and teach that the customer is always right?
Having a strong Customer Connecting Culture can be the difference between your company taking off and reaching new heights or being grounded and never leaving the gate.
Lou Diamond is the Founder & CEO of Thrive – a leading consulting and coaching company helping the best people and companies become even more amazing. He is also the author of the newly released international best-selling book “Master the Art of Connecting“.