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How to enhance customer experience in airlines

How Do You Enhance Your Customer Experience: The Low-Hanging Fruit Strategy

Vinith Kumar

Vinith Kumar

General Manager

Many organizations, irrespective of their sizes, go through customer experience fails. They result in a bad reputation and can hamper their growth.

What do I mean by customer experience fails?

Let me give you a couple of examples that I read on hubspot.

American Airlines

Airlines have notoriously bad reputations when it comes to customer service. After all, airline employees work in high-stress environments and have to be proficient problem solvers. With all of the protocols and policies that are enforced at airports, it’s not surprising that some companies are bound to make mistakes.

That’s exactly what happened to American Airlines when a flight attendant asked a passenger to get off a plane. The passenger was traveling with a $30,000 cello that was apparently “too big” for the aircraft. So, she was asked to board another plane leaving one hour later. But, that plane’s crew wouldn’t let her on, either, and soon she was surrounded by airport police because the staff thought she was “not understandable.”

Turns out, the customer was right all along. The airline’s policies did permit the instrument and she could have flown on her original plane.

This situation shows why it’s so important to have a dedicated CSM leader. If your company has a lot of policies, protocols, and rules, your staff should know each one by heart. If not, you should have at least one manager who can act as an immediate resource whenever a dispute like this occurs.

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Amazon has a great track record of customer service. But, that doesn’t mean they don’t mistakes every now and again.

For example, one loyal Amazon customer was buying toilet paper when she noticed that she accidentally purchased an $88 item with a shipping cost of $7,455. Unfortunately, by the time she caught the error it was too late to cancel the order and the package was delivered. So, she called Amazon customer service, hoping to resolve the issue.

Being a long-time Amazon customer, she expected to have things straightened out rather quickly. However, after complaining six times and writing a letter to the CEO, Jeff Bezos, she was told repeatedly that the company would not refund the purchase because it was delivered on-time and undamaged. It wasn’t until two and a half months later when the customer got the story featured on television that Amazon decided to reimburse the purchase.

The lesson here is that good customer service isn’t a one-time feat. It’s something you should be constantly trying to provide no matter how long a customer has been with your business. Remember, studies show that it only takes one poor experience for a customer to churn.

Here, we are talking about legendary brands like Amazon and American Airlines.

Given such examples, how do you as a brand enhance customer experience?

I believe in addressing the low-hanging needs, which is doing the fundamentals right. This would take care of most issues that may flare up as a part of the customer experience.

How Do You Go About Implementing the Low-Hanging Fruit Strategy?

1. Ask Basic Questions to Your Customers

How are we doing?

What did we do wrong?

Why are you still with us? 

What makes you come back to us?

Listen to your customers with this basic template and develop improvements incrementally. At least, you would make delta improvement on your customer experience parameters every day.

2. Pay Attention to Small Things

Pay attention to how you greet your customers. Do you make them feel welcome? Do you regularly chat with them about their experience of being with us? Do you recognize their loyalty by sending them gifts or coupons at regular intervals?

These small details can make a visible difference to your customer experience.

3. Make It Easy for Customers to Give You Feedback

Automate and collect feedback through multiple channels. It could be automated voice messaging, text messaging using WhatsApp/Telegram, short embedded email surveys, short forms to fill up when they visit your facility. Have a process to collate them and run them through your analytics engine to allow you to act on the positive and negative feedback.

4. Empower Your Employees to Solve Problems

Instead of following SOPs for everything, ask your employees to use their discretion to solve customer problems. The thumb rule here should be to always err in favor of the customers.

5. Ask the Not-So-Obvious Question

What can we remove to make the experience better? This is a powerful question, as it might break all preconceived notions about the process you have in place. Your customer experience process may have been thought out and implemented, but if it doesn’t help your customers stay happy, then you better have a relook at it.

6. Respond in a Timely Manner

Respond immediately to any queries from your customers. Your response time SLAs should be in minutes and not hours. Even if you don’t have a solution, acknowledge the problem and reassure them promptly.

7. Look and Feel of Interactions

When your customer is trying to do an online transaction, pre-fill relevant fields instead of your customers filling them out all over again. For example, if someone renews their insurance, they just have to agree and make the payment. Everything else should be pre-filled.

8. Go through the Experience Yourself

Take time frequently to go through the customer experience yourself. Most likely, your customers would face the same experience as you do. If you find a glitch, it is likely that your customers also have the same feedback.

When looking at enhancing your customer experience, you don’t have to look at a complete overhaul. You can start with the low-handing needs and incrementally improve them. These steps listed above are housekeeping steps when we talk about customer experience improvement.

You can also check our article on: What Is Customer Effort Score?

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