Teachable Moment: Communication and Timeliness


Travelers sit at their gate at the airport waiting to board their plane. At the scheduled time of boarding, it is announced that there is a technical problem with the plane and that the flight will be delayed by one hour. The majority of the hour passes and there are no updates; however, the boarding process in theory should have already started. Finally after several passengers approach the counter themselves, an announcement is made that the flight will be delayed another half an hour and that there will be an announcement to confirm details in 10 minutes. Fifteen minutes passes and there is no announcement; however, the crew announces boarding twenty minutes later at the promised thirty-minute mark. The passengers board and the plane takes off.


  • Respect your customers’ time. Although at times even staff members are not aware of a problem much in advance of when the product or service is due, it’s critical to communicate with your clients with as much notice as possible.
  • Anticipate your customers’ needs. This statement extends beyond problem resolution, too. Imagine you are the customer. You are at the mercy of your selected product or service provider and the information that provider cares to share. You want to know the full story, and the provider owes you communication and timeliness. If you have even one customer asking a question, it becomes possible that every customer has that question.
  • Always keep your promises. If you say that you will deliver a product or service in a certain way or a certain time etc., deliver. Failing to do so is very disengaging to your customer. With that said, when defects occur, it’s important to own up to them. Apologize and do whatever it takes to reengage the customer. It’s often true that a customer who had a problem resolved effectively and to their satisfaction becomes even more engaged and loyal to a brand than a customer who didn’t experience an issue at all.