This week I was having lunch with one of Belgium’s captains of industry. After we finished talking about our respective books and careers, my lunch companion told me that he had ‘made a difference’ in his organization by taking on board the Singapore Airlines philosophy of ensuring that every contact his team made with their customers was analyzed, scored for effectiveness and then seen how it could be improved. In his case his customers were his companies employees, all X thousands of them, as he is their HR Director. This got me thinking….

If Singapore Airlines have recognized 150 contact points with their customers, from purchasing a ticket to saying goodbye at the destination airport and if they have optimized each one so that it is better than their competitors, then no wonder ‘Singapore Airlines’ is the most appreciated airline in the world. So why don’t I apply it to my projects?

Obvious points of contact are with:

• Potential team members during recruitment
• Team members once recruited (passing in hallways, meetings, lunches, emails, reports, telephone conversations etc)
• Client contacts (sponsors and project board members)
• Project suppliers
• Project financiers etc. etc.

The idea is that one must improve the experience for the receiving party, so much so, that they always come back for more. For recruitment, I have tried to adopt this attitude for a long time. After all when you interview an interesting candidate you want them to choose you and not someone else.

But this idea can be extended and extended until you go mad trying to flatter and please everyone. For example, apparently Singapore Airlines cabin crew have to look after 10 customers each (I guess this only applies to Business and Premier Plus), and each crew member needs to know their customer’s names off by heart. The idea is that the Steward or Stewardess’s first contact points begins with “oh, you must be Harley Lovegrove?, Welcome on board!” They know my name because on the inside of their left palm they have a little list of names of their passengers with their seat numbers – hence the need for the “you must be line” – because I guess often people are sitting in the wrong seat at first! Although this attention to detail gives the passenger the ‘rock star’ feeling, one can not help feeling cheated by it, it’s all a bit false.

However, I am now beginning to re-examine all aspects of my contact points, especially those that I know could be improved. After all the benefits of obtaining loyalty, can be very beneficial, as long as I do not go mad in the process! I just need to find a place where I can buy sticky labels to fix to the palms of my hands. Mind you I’ll need to fix them to the inside of my jacket too 😉