“The customer is my all”

The ‘customer’ has been the greatest discovery of firms in the new century. It may seem ironic, but the focus has consistently been on the product ever since mercantilist notions and protectionist policies first gained currency. And the old classical notion of ‘the customer as patron’ has been gathering dust as nothing more than the nostalgic counsel of a handful of hoary elders.

The enormous development in liberalization of the markets and possibilities for transport is turning the whole world into a single market, with the result that the superior advantage and cost benefits of being able to produce products is now history. Although the elimination of cost differences has not yet made itself fully felt during this transition process, the costs of products in the same category would seem to be on the brink of converging in the near future. This change in the structure of the markets clearly shows us that the ‘customer’ has become the determining factor for firms in the new period. The transition from being product-oriented to being customer-oriented is acknowledged now as an inevitable process. For perceiving what the customer wants before he even says it and putting on the market goods and services that meet those expectations confronts firms now as one of the basic targets of the conditions of competition in the new period.
So what are the customer’s basic expectations? Where should ‘customer orientation’ begin? What kind of changes should customer-orientation bring about in the way firms operate? These questions show that rather than being mere empty rhetoric, customer-orientation must be a concrete indicator in terms of firms repositioning themselves and redefining the aims of their operations.
As minds focused on the product, being able to put ourselves even for an instant in our customers’ place and look at the job we do is the starting point for customer-orientation. In fact, each one of us is a customer in all the areas outside the one in which we actually work. We can therefore easily understand the customer’s expectations by having empathy with him in those moments when we ourselves are customers. First of all, we all expect to be able to buy the product or service we want the first time round, and the firm to be able to explain clearly to us what it promises. Second, when we want to buy a product or a service, we expect the firm to understand us correctly and to respond to that, and we expect to be able to get that product or service immediately and the firm to offer us neither less nor more than what we want. During this process, we want those who are offering the product or service to do so in such a way that we will be able to use it and to facilitate that process for us, and we want the firm to act fairly and to be honest with us regarding the product or service it offers. Finally, we desire that the firm whose product or service we are buying be ethical as a firm and sensitive to social issues. For a firm, ‘customer-orientation can be transformed into a factor that will lead to success through the human factor and the capacity for institutional change. Customers’ expectations should therefore be treated as the starting point for a total process that will give direction to human resource (internal customer) policies and institutional change. In any case, customer-orientation can be achieved through a structure in which everything acquires meaning through its relationship with itself.
With the aim of orienting the products and services of Turkish Airlines around the customer, a new unit known as the ‘Customer Relationship Management Directorate’ was created recently in the Department of Business Development. In order to correctly perceive our customers’ expectations, we are going to look at ourselves solely through their eyes using such instruments as Mystery Shopper, Honorary Observer and Passenger Surveys. The goal here is that our efforts in this direction, which we believe will make Turkish Airlines even more successful, will be helpful in managing internal customers (ground operations, cabin and cockpit, sales, IT and marketing) in full cooperation as well as in coordinating those efforts with external factors, such as workers’ unions.

Increase Upsell and Cross-Sell Opportunities By Providing Excellent Customer Care/November 2006, www.istanbulcallcenterexpo.com