Turning again to Danny Meyer’s book Setting the Table, he gives us “Five A’s for Effectively Addressing Mistakes”. Let’s take a look:
- Awareness – Many mistakes go unaddressed because no one is even aware they have happened. If you’re not aware, you’re nowhere.
- Acknowledgement – “Our server had an accident, and we are going to prepare a new plate for you as quickly as possible:
- Apology – “I am sorry this happened to you.” Alibis are not one fo the Five A’s. It is not appropriate or useful to make excuses (“We’re short staffed.”)
- Action – “Please enjoy this for now. We’ll have your fresh order out in just a few minutes.” Say what you are going to do to make amends and follow through.
- Additional Generosity – “Unless the mistake has something to do with slow timing, I would have my staff send out something additional…Some more serious mistakes warrant a complimentary dish or meal.
Now let’s run United “customer service” through the Five A’s:
- Awareness – with fewer staff and an attitude of “you get what you pay for” most staff are not actively seeking to fulfill on a promise of hospitality. Doing the minimum has become the norm which means there are very few opportunities even discovered to delight customers.
- Acknowledgement – following on from awareness, you can’t acknowledge what you don’t know about.
- Apology – whilst canned apologies are the norm, excuses are rife. There is a reason behind everything but it is never a personal apology that customers receive.
- Action – without any provisions, coupons for discounts on food, beverage or flights, or other “we messed up “ rewards United staff are simply not empowered to take any action. A broken seat? Sorry, there are no other spare seats and nothing else we can do for you.
- Additional Generosity – unless it’s due to United overbooking a flight, I have not seen an act of outbound generosity in many years.