Charmed, I’m Sure

I fly – a LOT!  My total accrued mileage with the couple of frequent flyer programs where I am a member is over 5,000,000 miles.  No, you didn’t read that wrong.  I fly – a LOT!

The last couple of flights I’ve taken on Delta Airlines were followed up by an email survey asking me about the service I experienced.  That was new.

A couple of weeks later, I read an article in the Wall Street Journal that Delta, ranked last among major carriers in customer service, was sending it’s 11,000 agents to “charm school”.  This enhanced customer experience training is aimed at problem-solving and personal skills.

Delta is one of the airlines I fly with some regularity because my stepson and his wife attend the University of Utah in Salt Lake City and we ski in Deer Valley, Utah.

Delta is not one of the airlines I have refused to fly because of the deplorable attitude of the staff, in fact, I have no real complaints about the service on Delta.  I was surprised to learn of their low ranking but not surprised they would take aggressive steps to correct the situation.

When I talk to other frequent travelers, Delta is NOT the airline they universally seem to try to avoid.  Perhaps Delta got the low rating because they were the worst of those we actually FLY as opposed to considering those we have abandoned all together.

In any event, the lessons here for all business people are these:

1. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security because a few customers like me don’t have complaints.  Just as one unhappy customer can be an out-lier,  so can a few happy customers.

2. Put a system in place to get. track and keep a customer experience score for your business.  You can use on-line surveys, mystery shopping companies,  telephone surveys or even old school comment cards but you can’t afford to NOT know how you rate with customers.

3. When the news is not good; be proactive!  If you need to bring in someone like Brad Worthley to train on customer service – do it!  If you need to buy a copy of my book on motivating employees for every member of your management team – do it!  If you need to send 11,000 people to charm school – do it!

Kudos to Delta Airlines for the steps they are taking to improve the customer experience for all of we harried travelers.   For the rest of us, let’s be sure we don’t wait until we are ranked LAST with customers to take proactive steps to monitor and continually improve our standing in the marketplace.

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