Last week Nikki Gilliland at Econsultancy recently wrote about how airline brands are improving customer experience in-flight. She pointed to big changes like better bag tracking, in-flight Wi-Fi connectivity, and pre-booking meals from your favourite chef. Of course Nikki is right but it’s still the small, human touches that don’t cost a lot that make the biggest impact read more here.
I heard about another great example of this last week from a colleague. She happened to be flying on her birthday with a transatlantic carrier, one with a reputation for great customer experience. She was very chuffed when they sent her a happy birthday email on the day; what a great touch. But her high opinions soured when the on-board crew failed to back it up with a personal acknowledgement during the 10 hours she was in their care.
The disconnect between great process and poor human follow-through left her feeling distinctly snubbed. As she put it ‘I couldn’t shake that nagging thought that perhaps I’m just not important enough to get a personal happy birthday’.
Perhaps she was expecting too much or being unreasonable but we know from research that particularly for high touch services like travel between 50% and 70% of how people feel about their experience is based on emotions not rational decision making.
This reminds me of the importance of joined up multi-channel customer experiences. When a company uses data in automated marketing messages to build empathy they have to follow through in other channels, particularly in-person or they risk undermining all their hard work.