How Top-to-Bottom Re-Training Can Be Critical to the Bottom Line

While the economy still hasn't fully recovered from recession, smart employers are investing in one thing that keeps customers coming back — excellent service — even if it means re-training employees on basic skills you'd expect them to have in the first place.

Delta Airlines, for instance, recently announced it will send all 11,000 of its customer service agents back to class — to brush up on core service skills and practice how to handle tough situations through a battery of customer scenarios.  Why is Delta undertaking such a large-scale initiative?   Because service declines are starting to hit the bottom line. According to, Delta had the highest rate of customer complaints filed with the U.S. Department of Transportation in the first nine months of 2010 and was second to last in on-time arrivals and baggage handling through last November.

delta-747According to a Wall Street Journal report on the program, "the daylong training sessions are aimed squarely at complaints raised in surveys Delta has been doing with customers. One recurring theme, the agents are told, is that customers write to the airline saying 'no one cared or apologized' when something went wrong. Another focus of the training: Making sure agents try especially hard with 'high value customers,' typically top-level elite frequent fliers. About 26% of the company's revenue comes from a small percentage of passengers, the workers are reminded."

All those issues figure significantly into overall performance:  A recent Accenture study cites customer service and converting customer information into business intelligence as the business improvement initiatives that produce the highest impact on a company’s financial success.

Delta isn't the only employer that believes its business could be improved by instilling a little more "please" and "thank you" in the workforce. Denver strip club owner Debbie Williams sends her employees for training at the Disney Institute, a famed training program at Disney World in Orlando, Fl. It seems that Debbie's investment in service with a smile has paid off, saying, "the way you treat each other as employees is the way you treat your guests."

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