At this point, people basically expect a bad experience when flying. The entire process – from your first steps out of the car to getting in your seat on the plane – is a truly frustrating, annoying, and often frantic process.
If you think hard about it, though, it really is not the long lines, expensive amenities, or high chance of a flight delay that makes the process so painful. Ultimately, it’s the customer service experience that does it, and there are two key factors we can learn from here.
1) FIRST IMPRESSIONS
Everyone knows how important first impressions are. In business, in music, in relationships, in anything. But for some reason most companies seem to ignore this when determining who their customer service reps will be. To put the most unintelligent, incompetent, or drained/defeated personalities at your front desks, answering your phones, and helping your customers (specifically in an industry full of customer complaints like this one), makes no sense to me. A first impression is so, so, so critical – and it’s worth investing in the people or materials necessary to make your brand’s first impression a great one.
2) FEELING VALUED
If the entire frustrating travel process were identical, except you felt like the customer service representatives genuinely cared about you, it would not be nearly as bad. There is an overwhelming feeling of being a statistic when traveling. When a flight is canceled or delayed several hours, there is absolutely zero sense of apology or hospitality exchanged. The customer service rep understandably can’t care about each flight cancelation, and I’m not suggesting they put up an “RIP Flight 4950” sign when a flight is canceled. But I am saying that if there was even the slightest form of either systematic or personal apology from a brand when they cause an extreme inconvenience for a customer that is already paying tons of money to be there, it would make a massive difference.
If any airline were to truly step up and make changes in these directions, their customer loyalty would skyrocket, and they would immediately become everyone’s favorite airline.