Where the Airlines Fail, You Must Succeed

This holiday season, millions of people will take to the skies to visit family and friends. It will all go smoothly, right? One look at the massive construction at New York’s LaGuardia airport or the recent pilot scheduling snafu at American Airlines belies the reality…the air travel industry’s image has morphed from the lap of luxury to languishing in mediocrity.

But what can YOU learn from their mistakes? A lot. Here are some key lessons to consider (perhaps while you arrive two hours early for a flight that is then delayed indefinitely!):

Your Only as Good as Your Last Encounter

Many people have a negative image of air travel because…the last time they traveled they had a negative experience. How did things go when you last talked with your client? If the answer is “Not as good as I would have liked,” then find an opportunity to engage with them again. This time, bring your “A” game so that is the last thing they remember. The longer you let that one bad moment linger out there, the more time they have to make it a bigger deal than it probably was. Reset the table!

Competition is Always Waiting to Pounce

Complacency has killed a lot of customer service today. People just don’t seem to care like they used to. Airlines, which used to come up with many creative ways to attract customers, compete solely on price and convenience. That’s not going to get YOU very far. Remember, your competition is right outside, waiting for you to forget about them so they can slip in and steal your business. Have you worked hard to establish client loyalty? If you haven’t, you might have to go the back of line as your client moves on.

It’s Not the Product as Much as the People

I believe that clients buy people first, products second. However, airlines seem to fall all over themselves promoting seats that recline or that have more leg room. Is the expectation of comfort really something to promote? You should know what your clients expect and deliver it to them. Then, you need to find ways to stand out. Do your research and make smart, fact-based recommendations. Ask solid, probing questions that open up the dialogue. Create a follow-up plan…and follow it! Find ways to contact your client with meaningful, of-the-moment intel that shows you care. Whatever you do, don’t assume that your product/solution is good enough. It won’t be for long!

Be Inventive…Always

Most of us are too young to remember the golden age of air travel. But it wasn’t so long ago that we can’t imagine what it might have been like to travel when flying was new, exciting and something one anticipated with great hope. That’s how you want your client’s thinking about you. If you’ve ever been let go by a client you’ve had for years and replaced with a competitor, you know the sting that comes along with that rejection. What did they do to win the business? More than you because you become a commodity, instead of something of value.

What was the last GOOD customer service experience you had? Why did it standout?  Reply below.  -SG