Image of swissport lost baggage desk at Dublin Aiport in Ireland

Investing in Process Management

An effective process infrastructure strengthens the bridge with your customer...

On my return journey to Dublin Airport last Wednesday, I landed to discover my luggage was lost. Baggage does indeed get lost, which is a fact of life for baggage handling at scale. However, when processes don’t get the investment they need in a dynamic marketplace, the resulting problems become notable to those who engage with it. In my case, I had to report my single hard case lost so I went to the Swissport desk. There I found the atmosphere to be very tense, which hit me hard as a weary traveller. I found the environment to be highly uncomfortable noting the first process improvement opportunity was training. A basic precept of good negotiation is always to respond to aggression with assertion. I witnessed this process gap whilst waiting for my turn and saw one case escalate unnecessarily due to the rep most likely being untrained in negotiation techniques.

When I was eventually asked to come forward to have my case processed, I just had to fill out a paper-based form. I filled out a form on a sheet of paper and not on a tablet or a laptop creating duplication of work and a higher risk of errors by manual entry of details into a system. The rep inputted the details and did not wait for me to check them, which is another missed process validation point. I got my paper receipt and an email address I can use with no number, or other contact details available to me when I asked. The reluctance in engagement on this point was striking, which speaks to a process breakdown around communication channels. At this point, there was no apology for losing my case, but 1 to 3 days of a tracing turnaround was disclosed before she left to attend to another traveller. If I was a traveller from far-off lands with no clothes or access to shops, I would be very upset if it was very late. I would have expected some query and support on how I will cope without my luggage until its return or cost reimbursed for replacements. This is a process of its own that was lacking in the cases I overheard whilst waiting my turn to have my case processed.

I collaborated with the Swissport rep in my own conversation by advising here that I was first to belt 4 and did not see my case so nobody could have mistakenly taken it. I also noted that 2 other flight passengers were at the desk and we were moved by Iberia staff at Madrid Airport to another luggage check-in desk instead of the scheduled one. The information I provided was material for a successful trace but I did not have the opportunity to enter it in the outdated case form that I got and the rep did not update her file whilst I was there. Empowering the traveller with write access to the lost baggage case file via a technological interface is a key process improvement opportunity. The rep should act as a guide when needed by the traveller. This would be transformational to the traveller’s experience at Swissport’s lost baggage desk.

I made other process improvement observations whilst there and afterwards, but what matters is trust. The process should be understandable and coherent to a point where the Swissport rep in this case can guide the traveller through a technological interface with an automated process that does the following:

  • Empowers the traveller to create and update their own file with new information.
  • Empowers the traveller to see what stage the investigation is at via web interface with their last name and case number as access credentials.
  • Empowers the traveller to see what the next step is to a resolution.
  • Does so in a manner that delivers trust to the traveller in the process that is serving them to a successful outcome whatever that may be.

A process that keeps pace with technological advancements, which makes the customer's life easier is key to a good user experience. Any company that rules such process investment out for any reason falls behind process-wise and the resulting conflict with customers aggregates to damage the company’s brand and that of its clients who depend on it for the provision of service.  Stay tuned for more on Writing in this blog along with articles on other areas of interest in the DevOps and Cloud Infrastructure arenas. To not miss out on any updates on my availability, tips on related areas or anything of interest to all, sign up for one of my newsletters in the footer of any page on Maolte. I look forward to us becoming pen pals!

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