Developing Your Talent

Leadership Lesson from the Triumph

By JC Heinen on April 8, 2013

With so much business contingent upon recommendations, customer service is one of the most effective ways to gain new and retain existing customers. Excellent customer service is contingent upon employees who are properly trained and educated so they can respond to any situation that arises. This means focusing on building agility, good problem solving skills and the ability to understand the customer’s perspective.

Not all disastrous customer experiences make national news, but when the story of the Carnival Triumph emerged, unhappy customers were given a very public platform – describing in excruciating detail tales of ruined vacations. However, after six days in horrifically unsanitary conditions and while enduring shortages of food and water, no one had a complaint about the ship’s crew.

The ship’s crew was empowered to make decisions and went into action to deal with an unprecedented emergency. They understood the value of their individual contributions and they had the ability to put themselves in the place of their customers – empathizing with the needs of their passengers and doing whatever possible to accommodate those needs. Many passengers cited examples of excellent service under these arduous conditions, including how the crew sought information to keep passengers informed and kept children entertained with games to lessen their fears.

As one Triumph passenger told ABC’s Good Morning America, the ship’s crew, “saved the face of Carnival during this disastrous event for the company. They certainly were feeling as miserable, exhausted, and dirty as we all felt, yet they continued to smile, take my dirty dishes to prevent me from carrying them, explaining that it was ‘my pleasure,’ always with a smile or offering a helping hand.” As a result, she plans to take more trips with Carnival. In the same interview, another passenger said her family is planning to use their free Carnival cruise. “Our room steward Lito, was an angel to my family. He was high-fiving the kids, telling them stories and making towel animals.”

Thanks to the crew’s attitude, resourcefulness and commitment to service, not all customers were lost.

So how would your team measure up when the pressure is on (and the power is off)? Would they step up and keep the interests of your customers paramount? Have they been trained to swing into action confidently or would they become flustered and ineffectual? Would they do the right thing, or the most expedient?

One Response to “Leadership Lesson from the Triumph”

  1. Linda Olbrys

    Fabulous leadership lessons learned on the Carnival Triumph…


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