by Christine Hill
Training has always been the backbone of the aviation and aerospace industries…..technical training. When it comes to core human interaction skills training, or “soft skills training” as many aviation professionals call it, the industry lags behind other service providers like the hospitality and banking industries.
ServiceElements came onto the scene in 2003 after its founders recognized that a need was not being served in business and general aviation. Aviation professionals were getting all the technical recurrent training that they needed to keep flying, fueling, maintaining and serving business aircrafts and their passengers. But many of the aircraft passengers and principals at flight departments, FBOs, maintenance shops, aircraft manufacturers, charter companies, fractionals, etc. began demanding better service and communication skills from the aviation professionals. They knew their stuff when it came to the aircrafts, but they struggled when it came to dealing with passengers, customers and their team members.
Customer service training companies like Ritz-Carlton and Disney Institute were gaining popularity, but they were merely benchmarking companies. They told you how they provided service in the hotels or at the Disney Parks, but it was not easy to relate back to the real life challenges in business and general aviation. The customers pay a lot of money and expect the best service that money can buy when they are buying an aircraft, getting that aircraft maintenance or flying in that aircraft.
ServiceElements started facilitating workshops on topics that related to customer service, communication, leadership and just basic human interaction skills. These topics started becoming recognized as core skills rather than soft skills.
Communication is imperative in a service organization. Effective communication is not just active listening or the ability to articulate well. Communication is effective only when the person sending the communication and the person(s) receiving the information come to an understanding. And in order for the service interaction to be successful, the expectations of the customer must be met (at the very least) or exceeded. Maintenance professionals will sometimes say, “I don’t deal with the customers. I just fix the planes.” But this is not true anymore. Everyone has customers to deal with—whether they be external customers or internal team members. Communication and interaction skills between both are essential to a successful company, to a successful team AND to successful individuals.
Whether the service organization is a flight department, an FBO, a maintenance shop or an OEM. Customers were defined: Who are they? What are their expectations? What are their needs? How do they change from visit to visit? Dealing with challenging customer interactions