There have been many great stories in the past couple of months about airlines doing what was right by their Customers. We can all learn a little about Customer centricity when we look at these examples from three major carriers in the US.
Frontier Airlines Pilot Feeds His Passengers While Stranded on Runway
Frequent travelers have all been there…sitting on the runway, hungry, thirsty, and needing to go to the lavatory but strapped in their seat, sometimes for hours. It’s unpleasant for everybody. When this scenario played out on the runway in Cheyenne, WY, for a flight bound for Denver, Captain Gerhard Brandner ordered 38 pizzas from the local Domino’s to be delivered to the plane. He said of the incident that, “It was time to take care of my passengers.”
I love this example. What a great move by the captain to make sure that the unpleasant necessary delay (a weather delay in Denver) didn’t have to be a bad experience for passengers! It is important in situations like this one that organizations don’t make excuses for a bad experience and instead focus on how they can make it more pleasant. Here is an excellent example of separating the “what,” weather delay in Denver that leaves passengers stranded on the runway in Wyoming for hours, from the “how,” having pizza delivered, so passengers don’t have to starve while they wait.
Southwest Attacks Its Late Problem Head-on with Its Customers
Southwest Airlines is a great Customer-centric airline with excellent employee engagement. What Southwest Airlines is not, at least according the US Department of Transportation, is punctual, which is clearly not a great stat when you are in the transportation game.
In a great article on Inc.com, Southwest’s senior director of operational performance Steve Hozdulick is attacking the problem to increase their on-time arrivals by 83 to 85% next year:
- First, they are going to break it down into several steps to solve the problem instead of just making one big move and moving on to the next order of business.
- Second, they are going to explain better “why” they were late (which was because they are updating their fleet with larger aircraft that take longer to load and unload). Personally I hate it when you hear, “This flight is delayed because the inbound aircraft was late.” I know that! WHY was it late is always my thought…
Most importantly, however, they are honest and public about their problem. Customers don’t like to be late, but they like to be lied to even less, so this kind of honesty and open communication strengthens the relationship because Customers know that Southwest is going to tell them the truth.
JetBlue Will Automatically Check You in
There are many details (read: hassles) before you travel. There is packing, getting to the airport, taking care of all the details at work and home while you are gone, parking, confirming your hotel, and so on…I’m exhausted just typing the list. JetBlue recognizes that checking in is just one more task to add to a long list for their Customers. They decided to streamline the check-in process for their hassled travelers by automatically checking them in 24 hours before their flight, which they will then email to their passenger.
Automatic check-in is a good move because it shows that they look at the experience with an outward-in focus, much like the focus a customer has. They are walking in their customer’s shoes and seeing a place where they can improve one of their touch points to deliver a better experience. Even better is that it is a win-win situation as one of the things this allows JetBlue to do is correct any reservation or flight problems before the passenger arrives at the airport. Everyone wins here, because eliminating the discovery of these types of mistakes makes the wait lines shorter for everybody at the airport—which I’m sure we can all agree is a BIG win!
So three things that are going better in the Airline industry before. I have to say being a regular flyer there are a number of other things that need to be fixed but this is at least a start.
If you enjoyed this post, you may be interested in the following blogs:
- The Customer Flight Experience
- The Airline Industry: WestJet, Virgin and Delta Create Joyful Experiences
- Should 4% of Customers Dictate Strategy?
Colin Shaw is the founder and CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s first organizations devoted to customer experience. Colin is an international author of four best-selling books and an engaging keynote speaker. To read more from Colin on LinkedIn, connect with him by clicking the follow button above or below. If you would like to follow Beyond Philosophy click here
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