Your front-line marketing staff

Just back from a week of traveling, I thought I’d relay to you a couple of experiences. They both share a theme: that your front-line staff — the people who face your customers — are among your most important marketing tools.

Airline KLM was hit by the stormy weather in western Europe the other week. Flights canceled and delayed. But instead of "it’s not my problem, it’s the weather", the front-line staff were helpful, booked me onto a choice of flights, were very apologetic. The staff at the gate were able to solve my problems with no fuss and no complaining.

Virgin Trains run some services on the UK’s rickety railways. My train was 45 minutes late (problem with the line, not the train). But the staff again bent over backwards to help people make connections or change their travel routes and plans. The train staff could read timetables, issue tickets, give advice. And they handed out free coffee.

All these things are very simple, yet still we don’t see them very often.

The lessons? These staff had decision-making power, they were pro-active in helping solve problems, and they were friendly and pleasant. They put a human face on a faceless corporation and left me feeling good about my experiences. Despite the storms and the broken rails.

Are the front-line staff in your business helping with your marketing?