It’s the Experience, Stupid!
I used these very words (in the title) in response to a recent post by a colleague
Dana (Feb. 21, 2005) ranting about the lack of customer service. Customers have lots of choices these days, sometimes too much. It’s one of the reasons the “customer experience” has become a critical differentiator – treat customers right if you want to keep them coming back.
Too bad more companies don’t get it. I’m seeing this more & more as a business traveler. Wading through airport security … being herded on planes like cattle … and without the amenities we used to get (a small package of pretzels just isn’t enough on a cross country flight). Fellow passengers share the same frustrations, complaining about a particular airline or the industry in general.
On my last trip I heard a traveler comment about some surly airline staff. A few passengers tried to empathize with the staff given the instability of the industry and the fact that their jobs are in jeopardy. (In my experience, it’s only a handful of staff who have poor attitudes. But if they continue to to alienate passengers, their companies may not last much longer.)
My concern is for those airline staff trying to stay positive while taking care of customers. It truly is a delicate balance: as a result of cost-cutting reductions in staff & operations (needed to remain viable), airline staff have less resources at their disposal. (The good news was the last leg of my flight arrived on time; the bad news was we had to wait for baggage handling staff to unload the carry-on luggage.)
Remember, we’re also talking about employees who have taken pay-cuts, given back benefits, or haven’t had salary increases in a while. So yes, we passengers may need to be more understanding & perhaps lower our expectations a bit. At the same time, airline management needs to know it’s not a good experience – for either passengers or employees.
There’s no magic bullet for this. I just hope airline executives & managers are doing their best to be supportive of their employees — recognizing those who continue to take care of customers (despite the situation), while providing remedial attention to those don’t.
(Hint to those employees with a negative attitude: customers aren’t the only ones who have the option to leave!)