Here’s the latest addition to the lore of what wonders could be wrought through end-point empowerment. Obviously no procedure manual would be able to cover even a small fraction of the large number of field scenarios that occur in real world of customer service. Remains largely unpredictable.
Here we go:
(Lightly edited for readability and conciseness from here – there was no way to reblog the article entirely from its source)
The IndiGo Way of Delighting Customers – A Case Study
“Excuse me, khane mein kya hai?” (“Excuse me, what are the meal options?”), asked the elderly gentleman seated with his wife just one row behind me. The question was directed to an airhostess of an Indigo flight to Pune from Kolkata (India) on a July 2016 evening. All the passengers who had a pre-booked meal, or wanted to purchase on-board, had already been served with their choice of food and beverage, and the cabin crew were busy with cash consolidation and preparing to clean up the deck.
Unlike the passengers around, I was not really taken aback by the loud and out-of-protocol address, as I was already afflicted with the couple’s high pitched conversations in Marathi and Hindi throughout the first hour of the flight. It seemed they were not used to flights. They had even interacted so audibly with their immediate neighbor, an old formally dressed man seating by the aisle seat that I knew they hailed from Satara, returning after spending some time with their newly born grandson at their son’s place at Gangtok (Sikkim). Their son had booked the journey tickets for them, the first leg of which was from Bagdogra to Kolkata, and here they were on their last part of the trip.
“Can I see your boarding pass, Sir?” asked the air hostess politely.
“Here it is”, said the elderly gentleman in a Marathi accented Hindi and extended a card to her.
“Sir, this is the one for the Bagdogra-Kolkata sector, can I please have the pass for this sector?”
To this the man seemed visibly unsettled, searching for the right card with continuous ramblings in Marathi. His wife joined the commotion with “Just see how heartless they are, we haven’t eaten anything since lunch.” The gentleman found the right card and handed it over to the lady in uniform.
As I was finishing my drink over a gripping novel, I paused for a moment to watch the drama happening live beside me.
“Sorry sir, you do not have a meal booked for this sector. You had one in the flight from Bagdogra. However, if you wish, you can now purchase any food or drinks”. The standard pitch.
“Yeh kaise ho sakta hai? Plane mein khana milna hai to? Pehla flight mein bhi diya tha?!” (“How come that’s possible? Planes serve meals, isn’t it? We were served food in the first flight!”), stated the gentleman with a demeanor that said won’t-pay-whatever-hell-comes-up-you-better…
The lady excused herself for a quick whisper with her senior, handing over the boarding pass to her.
The lead lady, trained to expect the unexpected, came to the spot in quick time and was straight to the point, “Sir, what would you like to have?”
Seriously, none of the nearby passengers including me was expecting this.
“Dekha? Maine bola tha na?” (“See? I had told you!”), the man said with a smile, oblivious that he was going to receive a free meal. “What do you have in the meals?”
The no-fuss actions that followed next were heart-warming. The lead lady served them 2 sets of sandwiches and mixed fruit beverages with a smile and a wish, “Enjoy your meals, Sir!”.
The couple happily gorged themselves on the food over a high-pitched conversation in Marathi.
I returned to my novel.
Even though the sentences in the book were running in front of my eyes, my mind was absorbed in something else. I was reminded of a talk by Subroto Bagchi, co-founder of Mindtree Ltd…his point was on the right mix of process along with empathy in building and running an organization. All problems of the world can’t be solved by following the right process, unless you have an empathy element to back it up. It becomes particularly important when one deals with the most important aspect of one’s job, people.
If our lead lady had adhered to the laid down process, she would have rightfully refused to oblige the old couple with food packets. That was we had expected out of her. But when she decided to exercise her acumen of empathy, it suddenly made more business sense to all of us…Probably Indigo lost INR 500 (peanuts compared to their daily transactions) as a result, but what they gained was vastly in excess. It satisfied two old people without hassles, averted a possibly ugly scene, created many appreciating passengers, and made me write this blog lauding them.
“Process is not a substitute for building an emotionally rich organization. Process without emotion can quickly bring you down to the lowest common denominator.”
Subroto Bagchi, Co-founder, MindTree Ltd
Let’s not lose sight of the key enabler here: Indigo’s empowerment of its field staff – the end-point delivering the service – that encouraged the lady to make the gesture she did.
Source: Amit Dey, Deputy Manager, Learning & Development | HR at EXL at linkedin.com. And thanks to Anshuman Deshmukh, HR Manager at Genesys International for bringing the article to my notice.