Customer? What’s one of them then?

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Let's all do the conga!
Let's all do the conga!

I’ve been in Brussels this week running some customer service training courses. Customer service being my second great business passion after training managers as coaches.

Coming home on Thursday meant a flight from Brussels to Heathrow and then a connection to my home airport of Newcastle. Thinking about ‘customer service’ and ‘flying’ at the same time is an interesting experience and not one that the airlines or airports would encourage I would imagine.

After having my passport scanned at Brussels I came into the departure lounge and happened upon what I felt sure was a crowd waiting for fresh Michael Jackson tickets. Turns out it was just the queue for the security scan.

Underline THE queue. A single line. No account taken for whether a passenger’s flight was due to leave in 2 hours or 2 minutes. Luckily I was very early (I’ve done this before, you see) and settled in at the back with my bag in one hand and a newspaper in the other.

A few moments later a group from an inbound flight arrived in our hall having evidently sprinted from the other terminal in an effort to make their connection. All to no avail as they were ordered in no uncertain terms  to take their place at the back.

Is it really beyond the wit of man to organise some kind of prioritisation?

Later at Heathrow things were a little better. Friendlier staff and more scanners open, but still the whole belt-removing, shoe-displacing, laptop revealing pantomime had to play out.

I have some questions:

  • How many bombers/terrorists have ever been discovered in airport security checks?
  • If so, what is the ratio between this number and the total number of passengers checked?
  • Would the 9/11 bombers pass through modern security measures?
  • Why are all passengers required to undertake the exact same process? Surely this is easier for would be terrorists to examine and understand. Wouldn’t it be better if a range of random levels of checking were used which would add a degree of uncertainty?
  • Why do I have to be half-naked before I can be cleared to board a plane, but can still jump on a tube train with impunity? (A much more recent terrorist target if memory serves me right).

Anyway, the training went well and the attitude of the particpants was in sharp contrast to those of the airline/airport people. As a customer of the organisation I was working with, it’s reassuring to be in such caring hands.

Here’s a photo of some of them doing things with flipcharts

If I were a customer, what would I want?
If I were a customer, what would I want?
Matt Somers

Matt Somers

Matt Somers is the UK’s leading trainer of managers as coaches. His coaching skills training programmes, books, articles and seminars have helped thousands of managers achieve outstanding results through their people.

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