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Communication (and snacks) go a long way!

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« Healthcare Reform and the Reliance on ITDelayed posting for Weeks of 10/19 and 10/26 »

Communication (and snacks) go a long way!

10/30/09

Permalink 08:38:51 pm, Categories: IT Leadership, Business Leadership

For the last two days, I have been at a conference on healthcare in Southern California. Next week, I'll share some thoughts from the conference, but today I want to take another real-life example that IT and CIOs can learn from.

My return flights from Ontario California to Seattle were on Southwest Airlines. I fly Southwest frequently, partly because their flight schedules seem to work well with mine, partly because their pricing is usually quite good, and finally because I experience consistently good customer service from them. Both of my flights (I had to go through Phoenix and change planes) were delayed due to weather in other parts of the country. The first delay from Ontario to Phoenix was less than an hour, so that wasn't bad. However, my delay in Phoenix was four hours long--we left at 11:45p rather than 7:40p. Several things made this situation much more tolerable than it could have been: 1) Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport has free WIFI service (this should be required at all airports, but I won't get on my soapbox about that) and (2) the Southwest gate agents (we had three involved at various points) all did a number of the right things and did them right.

First and foremost, the agents kept us informed about the status of our plane coming in from Houston. They did it with a smile and with a bit of humor. This gave all 37 of us the ability to keep our friends and families up to date about our arrival in Seattle. Secondly, they understood that we were customers, and more importantly, people. When the flight was delayed in arriving past the time the restaurants in the airport were open, the gate agent called ground support and had them bring up boxes of snacks, cases of drinks, and some ice and napkins so we could all eat. (In a humorous side note, one passenger who apparently flies those "other airlines" asked the gate agent in all seriousness if we had to pay for the snacks!)

Many IT departments could learn from this experience. Keep your customers informed. Even bad news goes much better if people aren't surprised by it. And remember that your customers are people too--they need to eat, sleep, and feel like they are valued. If we can do these simple things and do them consistently, IT might get more support and respect from the rest of the organization.

Next week: Healthcare reform and the reliance on IT


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1 comment

Comment from: Arun Manansingh [Visitor] · http://arunmanansingh.wordpress.com
*****
Great post about the power of communication.
11/06/09 @ 10:08

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Don shares his experience and ideas about how to get the most value from your IT function. Note: The views and opinions expressed here are those of Don and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of his clients or employers.

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