Customer Service

“Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it. It is what the client or customer gets out of it.”

Peter Drucker

The dust is just settling from HAI HELI-EXPO 2014 as this issue is going to press. The Helicopter Maintenance team had another successful HELI-EXPO show! We enjoyed meeting and visiting with all of you who stopped by our booth. It was a pleasure to meet Derek Weeden and his wife Becky as Derek received the Helicopter Maintenance magazine 2013 Helicopter Mechanic of the Year Award. The Helicopter Maintenance magazine team is already working with our Editorial Advisory Board to get the 2014 Helicopter Mechanic of the Year Award off to a strong start. Stay tuned — details will be announced in the near future!

Many companies set up press briefings at HELI-EXPO every year. This year was no exception. I sat in on numerous press briefings and had several scheduled meetings with exhibitors. By the second day of the show, I realized that a common theme had surfaced. Several companies announced a “new” focus on customer service.

It is always nice to hear that a company has a focus on customer service. After all, helicopter maintenance companies are inherently service companies. A focus on customer service is critical, isn’t it? Isn’t it ironic that some companies in our industry, both big and small, are able to survive without a keen focus on customer service from day one?

Peter Drucker’s quote on customer service was right on point when I was looking for a quote to lead off this editorial column. We can design and build quality into our products, but without a customer service mentality, what happens in those instances when the customer isn’t satisfied? We need to have procedures in place to ensure our customers’ needs and concerns are being addressed in a timely and effective manner. We don’t want to just meet our customers’ needs; we want to EXCEED them! Happy customers mean free word-of-mouth advertisers that can help grow our business. But we can’t rely on happy customers to help us grow. Unhappy customers are very likely to speak out when something goes wrong — especially in today’s social media frenzy. Musician Dave Carroll is a great example. He was unhappy with his experience at United Airlines a few years ago. He says the airline broke his Taylor guitar on a trip, and he wasn’t happy with their response. So he took to YouTube and created a video in July of 2009 titled “United Breaks Guitars.” That YouTube video has more than 13 million views and inspired two additional videos and a book. Almost five years later, I still see a few shares now and then on my Facebook newsfeed for United Breaks Guitars.

If you want to grow, look for areas where you can rise above your competitors. Publishing magnate Rupert Murdoch once said, “You’ve got to look for a gap, where competitors in a market have grown lazy and lost contact with the readers or the viewers.” OK — so maintaining helicopters has nothing to do with readers or viewers — but the message is the same. Are your competitors lazy? Have they lost contact with influencers in the industry? Are you able to show how your company’s quality and customer support is second to none? If so, you have a good lead on your competitors. In instances of similar price and quality, top-notch customer service typically wins out.

I can’t say that Helicopter Maintenance magazine’s competitors are lazy or have lost contact. If you think about it, we have no competitors. We are the only magazine focused on you, the helicopter mechanic. Other helicopter magazines focus on pilots and/or operations. Other aviation maintenance publications focus mainly on fixed-wing topics, with a sprinkling of helicopter articles every once in a while. Only Helicopter Maintenance magazine gives you cover-to-cover helicopter maintenance articles in each issue!

We appreciate all the help the volunteers on our Editorial Advisory Board give us. But we can’t just rely on them. Our growth wouldn’t have been possible without you, our readers. We need your continued engagement to help us provide the information you need as helicopter maintenance professionals in each issue of Helicopter Maintenance. Do you have an article idea you would like to see published in the magazine? Let us know. We also appreciate your feedback on the magazine. With your ongoing support, we can continue to offer more of the helicopter maintenance articles you have come to expect from us.

Thanks for reading, and we welcome your feedback.

— Joe Escobar