I love flying, there is something exciting about the takeoff and even when I’m not going on holiday just being at an airport brings back feelings of holidays past as well as an excitement of what the future may hold. I was recently flying out of Bristol airport with EasyJet along with my two kids, aged 8 and 6 and my wife aged…well she would probably prefer I didn’t share that. Now at this point you are probably thinking why on earth is Craig talking about flying? I thought this was a tech blog about Utopia and business? Well, I’m going to use my recent experience with EasyJet to illustrate why I believe businesses can’t play with honesty and the part honestly plays at Utopia.
So there we were, all 4 of us in Bristol airport, my wife Kaz is super organised so she had sorted out the times we needed to leave our hotel room, how long we had for breakfast and of course how long we needed to leave to get through Bristol airport to get to our gate on time. Having had a cracking breaky we made our way to the airport and quickly got through security, in fact on this particular morning it was like a ghost town, so far so good…we were well ahead of schedule and then things went a little ‘Pete Tong’.
Glancing at the departure board and knowing we had around 45min to get to the gate before boarding we see that it says, ‘Boarding’. “OK”, I say calmly, ”lets just walk fast to the gate, they must be getting people on early.” as we walk through Bristol airports walkways we approach another Departure Screen, our flight now says, “Gate Closing”. We quickly check our tickets again, we should still have 30mins to get to the gate. That horrible feeling that we all know when you think you are going to miss a flight comes over my wife and I, my kids of course are oblivious and enjoy the fact they are now getting to run through the airport. While running we pass an elderly lady apparently also ‘running’ to the same gate. I stop and say to her to take her time, I promise won’t let the gate close without her. She thanks me as I run on. After a few more moments we arrive a Gate 17, out of breath and a little panicked. Hold on, the gate is full of people, people sitting down, reading papers, playing on their phones, certainly not boarding the plane. I say to the Easyjet employee at the gate that, “I think there might be a mistake on the board, it says gate closing, but you appear to have not started boarding yet?” He Calmly replies, “No sir, not a mistake, while we are not closing the gate. It did get you here in plenty of time.”
A few moments later the older lady that we passed in the corridor arrived, she and the rest of the disgruntled, out of breath passengers then had a seat for another 10mins before the boarding started and we made our way onto the plane.
I mentioned at the beginning of this blog that I wanted to talk about honesty, specifically brand honesty. EasyJet for me have now lost that trust, next time I fly with them when I see “Gate Closing” does that mean it is closing or are they just looking to hurry passengers? But it goes further than this, when I am booking tickets and it says, “best value” or even when I speak to their customer services can I trust all that I am told? This one incident, perhaps caused by just one reckless employee has made me now question all that EasyJet tell me.
At Utopia we explored our values, like most businesses do from time to time. Honesty was one that ended up at the top of the list and the wonderful thing about honesty is that it makes making decisions very easy. Is that customers computer being delayed because of a fault on our part? Tell them. Has the price of that system came down since the customer ordered? Tell them. Is it the clients fault that their PC isn’t working? Tell them.
Interestingly I learned after a Network Group conference I attended, while listening to a talk from author Joe Simpson, that honesty (and all values in fact) can mean different things to different people. Honesty to me might mean total disclosure of everything all the time, whereas honesty to you may just mean telling the truth when asked a direct question. This lead me to delve deeper into Utopia’s values with the whole team, ensuring we all knew that honesty to Utopia was not just skin deep, it would be in everything we do and everything we say.
With an honest and open approach to business our customers and clients always know exactly where they stand with Utopia. As for Easyjet, I think I’ll be spending more time with their competitors from now on.