Have you ever outsourced work you could or should do in-house? Sometimes we outsource because hiring a specialist in certain areas, such as IT or sales, may be more cost effective than building in-house capacity. Hey, we sometimes recommend to our clients that they outsource their sponsorship sales versus hiring us to help them build internal capacity. Every organization is unique and has different needs. But when we recommend outsourcing to a third party, we tell clients to be aware of what they are buying, what they are getting, and what they are losing.
Your brand is critical. It is your goodwill. It is your halo. It is why people are loyal to you. They trust you and your brand. When that trust is broken, sometimes it cannot be regained. And when you outsource to a third party, you lose control of your brand. You are letting someone represent you over whom you have no control.
The impetus for this TMC topic is a personal experience (surprise!). It is about a brand I like, one I trust and have faith in, one that I have used for years and often speak highly of because most often my experiences are terrific. But recently, something happened with that brand that resulted in an awful experience—not because of their employees, but a third party.
The brand is Air Canada. The third party is Nanaimo Airporter shuttle service. I travel a lot. Most of my flights are on Air Canada. They treat me well. I enjoy the service and being treated like a regular customer. I also know that no one is perfect and things can go wrong. That is just life and I accept it. Part of travelling over 100 flights a year means sometimes your checked baggage does not arrive with you. Heck, in any given year, it can happen a few times, but my bags have never been lost outright in over 50 years of air travel—all the way back to Trans-Canada Airlines. Typically, within a few minutes of it not showing up on the destination carousel, we can determine it is still in Vancouver, Toronto, or wherever. We then determine what flight it will be on next to get to me. No sweat—we know where the bag is, and how and when it will arrive.
A couple of weeks ago, I was returning to Nanaimo from Calgary through Vancouver. I took an earlier flight out of Calgary on standby, but when I arrived in Nanaimo early at 5:30 p.m., my checked bags had not made it. As I was waiting at the carousel, and even before the bags came out, an Air Canada agent approached me and asked, “Are you Brent?” (When you fly in and out of a small airport on a regular basis, they get to know you.) I answered yes and she informed me that my bags had not made it to Nanaimo. They were still in Vancouver. I said fine and filled out the typical paperwork. I knew there were three more flights from Vancouver that evening and the bag would be in Nanaimo by 7:30, 9:30, or 11:00 p.m. It actually arrived about 7:30. I left instructions that, when the bags arrived, as in the past, they could just be delivered to my house and left on the front doorstep if no one was home. (Again, small town advantage—safe neighbourhood.) By 11:00 p.m., the bags still had not been delivered. I went online and called. The bag had arrived at the airport at 7:30, but was awaiting delivery to my house. The third party engaged to deliver delayed baggage is Nanaimo Airporter—a local shuttle service. For some reason, they would not deliver that evening. Air Canada felt the brunt of that. When I called again in the morning, I was told that the delivery service (which had the bag) would get it delivered when they could. I was leaving on another trip the next day at noon and there were things in the bag I needed. It was not delivered until after 1:00 p.m. the following afternoon. This is a shuttle service that is being paid full pop to deliver bags just like the people it shuttles. But they were “too busy” to deliver my bag in a community the size of Nanaimo for over 17 hours. I was livid—really livid. The bag had arrived at the airport at 7:30 the night before. It was out of Air Canada’s hands because the 3rd party contractor was now representing the Air Canada brand. Yes, Air Canada took the heat. It is their halo that is tarnished. My trust has wavered. I know it was not their fault, but when you outsource to a 3rd party, be aware of the risks. Maybe throwing my bags in a taxi, delivering them to my house for $50, and charging it back to Nanaimo Airporter would have been a better solution after my first call to the baggage delay line (which unfortunately is also a 3rd party contractor).
Be aware when you outsource. Your brand and reputation are in the hands of someone you don’t control!
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