Your people know first

Andy - 29 th April 2016

With the current focus on customer experience alignment, it’s not surprising that many businesses are focusing on their staff, and working out how they can ensure that they’re delivering the brand in the right way.

Surprisingly, though, very few of them measure the opinions of their own people about the delivery of the brand. They may measure NPS amongst their customers and the market, but the people who are delivering the brand each and every day are largely ignored.

For us, this is madness. Time and again it’s been proven that a business’s own people know whether things are going well or going badly, well in advance of customers and, subsequently, the market. I heard this for myself loud and clear at Manchester Airport recently.


With an extremely busy week of pharmaceutical research in France and Brazil, I wanted to get through Manchester Airport as quickly and easily as possible, especially as it was stupid-o-clock on a Monday morning.


My travel agent had booked me a fast track pass to help speed my way through the joys of Terminal 3, but the minute I entered the security zone it became clear that the fast track was on a go slow; in fact, to the naked eye, it looked like there was less of a queue at the regular security route. Upon closer inspection, it became clear that there was something fundamentally wrong with the entire system.

When you approach the security check, there are four spaces for the traveller to put his or her bags. There are even jolly outlines of where your feet should stand whilst doing so! However, the third and fourth places in the line take twice as long to clear as the first and second spaces, because the  first two travellers bags inevitably get ahead of the third and fourth on the conveyor belt.

In just 10 minutes of queuing, it became clear that position 1 was the route to aim for. I was not the only person who noticed this! One traveller, clearly a little worried about missing his flight, refused to move forward to the dreaded position 4.

This did not impress the Manchester Airport employee, but what he said about the situation demonstrated how important it is to ask your people what’s working and what isn’t:

“I’m sorry, Sir. It’s not my system. If it was, it wouldn’t be anything like this, I promise you that.”

This from the man who does the job for 8-10 hours, 5 days a week. His colleagues nodded approvingly. We travellers felt resigned to our fate.

And guess which position I ended up in? That’s right, position 4.


A quick look at the latest Manchester Airport group company report reveals six key strategies:

There are six key priorities within our strategy which underpin our vision:

  1. Delivering great service at every touch point;

  2. Achieve profitable growth in all our businesses;

  3. Focus on operational excellence;

  4. Energise and unlock the potential of our people;

  5. Provide modern and customer focused infrastructure;

  6. Enhance the reputation and profile of M.A.G.

If M.A.G. can focus on numbers 3, 4 and 5, number 1 will begin to happen, and numbers 2 and 6 will inevitably follow.

It sounds like a plan. But without the energised potential of their people being unlocked, the plan will remain grounded.

Andy is a Director at Brand Vista, with over 15 years experience in advertising and innovation consultancies. He’s happiest when operationalising brands, creating ideas that excite staff, delight customers and bring the brand to life throughout the customer experience. 
Find out more about Andy