Sophie's Blog

Jan Carlzon CEO of SAS (from 1981-1994) turned the then fledgling airline from a $17 million loss per annum to making a profit of $54 million in just one year. How did he do it? What he described as the 50,000 moments of truth a business has every single day. Here are a couple of notable moments of truth in my life; notable because it is unlikely I will ever forget them.

Let me start with Qantas and the moment of truth, I had with them when I was widowed in 2004. I knew my husband had some frequent flyer points and thought it was a good idea to use them to fly his family down for the funeral. As anyone who has ever been in a state of shock and grief will know, your brain does not function as normal. As I could not remember his password to book these flights, I called the call centre. After explaining why I needed the password, the reply I received was and I quote verbatim as I can still hear those words today: “ When your husband died, his points died with him.” These words seemed inordinately harsh as I honestly had not really accepted that he had gone. I queried how that could be when everything else had been left to me in his will. The reply was; many have tried suing Qantas, but that it was ‘ironclad’ in their terms and conditions. Of course I need not have worried; everyone came to the funeral and the other airline was able to provide compassionate fares.

This experience however did leave a bad taste in my mouth and I chose not to fly Qantas for five years until my Dad in Denmark was diagnosed with cancer and the only flight I could get home was a BA- Qantas codeshare. I hesitated to book until my Dad asked if we did not have bigger things to worry about. Of course he was right, but you see how deeply that one moment of truth with Qantas affected me! Since then I have and do fly Qantas, but never as a first choice. I know that Qantas will not even notice whether I fly with them or not as I only fly 2-3 times domestically per month for work and twice a year internationally. Yet I wonder how many others choose not to fly Qantas because of a moment of truth encounter, they may have had?

Now to QT Resort in Port Douglas where I was booked to stay for the RCSA conference in August. I decided on the 15th of August which was only nine days before the conference that I would not go as my youngest son had recently broken both his wrists and I did not feel comfortable leaving him by himself when he was physically and mentally down in the dumps. QT’s Terms and Conditions clearly state that for cancellations within one month of the conference, the cancellation fee is 100%. Nevertheless I emailed to ask if there was any chance they would consider giving me a credit due to the extenuating circumstances. Within 36 hours I received an email from Kelsey, their reservations supervisor to say not only that they would give me a full refund, but he hoped my son had a speedy recovery! Kelsey actually went above and beyond what I had requested or could even have hoped for.

How do these moments of truth experiences relate to you? In recruitment you are constantly dealing with clients; your applicants, your candidates, your internal and external clients. Every single interaction is a moment of truth. It is actually not enough that YOU do the right thing, everyone in your organisation has to do the right thing! Because I know that perhaps I got a grumpy, insensitive call centre person at Qantas, but I am pretty certain that he was reading from some sort of script. For me, he simply was Qantas! And for me Kelsey is QT and I cannot wait to stay there as the benchmark is set and set high! How will you handle your moments of truths today and tomorrow?


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