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Home | CX Blog | Tag: Airlines

CX Excellence – Southwest Airlines, Delta, Jet Blue, British Airway and Virgin

After all the negative publicity the Airline sector has received lately, we have decided to put together a collection of some of the great airline experiences. These should get you smiling like a doctor with a new set of front teeth.

pizza-for-passengers

Cpt. Brandner to the rescue

When a plane was left stranded in its holding bay for several hours due to thunderstorms, the pilot, Captain Brandner could have stayed quiet and left his passengers to sit tight. Instead he picked up his phone and ordered 50 pizzas with his own card. When he made the announcement that the pizzas were coming, the whole plane applauded (The only time it should be acceptable to applaud on a plane!).

When asked why he decided to do all this, he says he felt it was his duty.
“If the need arises you need to take care of your family; you need to take care of your passengers. They are my responsibility the moment they step on the aircraft until they get off the aircraft,” Captain Brandner said.

Insight: Captain Brandner is the pilot everybody wishes they had on their flight. He has proven that he takes an empathetic approach to dealing with his passengers and has even referred to them as ‘Family’. Empathy is more than just seeing the world from the customers’ perspective. It is having the emotional intelligence to choose the right emotional response from a range of potential emotions to improve things for the customer.

 

delta-ceo-gives-up-seat

Delta CEO steps out of his comfort zone for a customer

Jesse Frank was the eighth passenger on a standby list for a delayed flight, showing zero seats available. She was desperate to get home to see her daughter. After 7 names were called, Jesse’s was finally announced. She was greeted by a ‘familiar faced’ man in collared shirt and tie, who placed her carry-on luggage in an overhead compartment and pointed her in the direction of her seat; she didn’t give it a second thought. She assumed he must have been an off-duty pilot she had flown with before. Little did she know, that man was the CEO of delta Airlines who had just given up his seat for a customer. 

She didn’t realise this until an air hostess announced that “a ‘special guest’ was sitting in the jump seat of the cockpit – the CEO of Delta Airlines”. Jesse was so amazed by the kind act that she left an open letter to him on the Delta Facebook page.

Insight: Delta’s CEO was putting himself in his customer’s shoes by flying on a standard flight and even experienced a delay that wouldn’t normally come his way, had he been flying on a private jet.
The fact that he gave up the comfort of his seat to sit in a cramped cockpit shows how much he truly cares about his customers.

 

capture

How to get passengers to greet a crying baby with a smile

What’s worse than sitting next to a crying baby on a long flight? Being the parent holding the crying
baby! You know you’re responsible for everyone else’s misery, and there’s often very little you can
do to fix it. For Mother’s Day, JetBlue decided to turn this frequent frustration on its head by actually
rewarding passengers when babies cry. JetBlue offered a 25% discount to passengers on a flight from JFK to Long Beach each time a baby started crying. That meant if four babies cried, all
passengers would get a free round-trip ticket for their next JetBlue flight.

Insight: This is a brilliant resolution to an unavoidable hindrance for passengers. And shows great empathy towards the dreading mothers, who are stresses about being in a small space surrounded by angry people.

 

british-airways-pilot

British Airways pilot turns a bad experience into a great one

A BA pilot stepped out of his comfort zone (Cockpit) to face a cabin full of restless passengers who had faced lengthy delays due to fog. The announcement was that the passengers would have to disembark because of a flat tyre on the plane. This could have been made over the intercom, but the pilot felt it would be a much more humane way to break the bad news while standing front and centre at the top of the cabin. He was honest, and let his passengers know exactly what was to happen and how long it would take. And because of this, there was a much warmer response than usual from his passengers.

Insight: One of the biggest issues customers have with airlines is the lack of clear communication with them. Be it T’s & C’s for an overbooked flight or reasons for delayed or cancelled flights. Customers always seem to get the bare minimum of information required. When things are out of an airlines control the best thing to do is to explain exactly what is happening and manage the customers’ expectations by telling them what is going to happen as a result.

 

branson

Richard Branson chimes in on the airlines controversy

Virgin Group CEO and founder, Richard Branson recently gave his thoughts on the recent airline controversy. In his article he writes “customers deserve innovation, they deserve respect, and they deserve an amazing experience. They do not deserve to be treated like numbers on a balance sheet, and cattle in a cabin.”

If this is the mentality coming from the very top of the company then you can guarantee it will be followed throughout all of Virgin Group’s products. We wrote in an article last month that the Airline industry needs to learn from its leaders. And Virgin is definitely setting the standard at the top.

It’s quite clear that the customer’s tolerance levels have reached breaking point with the airline industry. And it’s time the brands with the spotlight shone on them prove they care, or face losing their loyal customers.

 

We are always looking for examples of CX Excellence. If you have any yourself please send them on to us and we will feature it in our blog.

If you would like to explore how your company can activate CX excellence, e-mail Michael Killeen to discuss further.

Airlines should put more muscle into their empathy, rather than their resolution

When was the last time you attended a match or a concert and were asked to give up your seat? United Airlines have made one customer’s on-the-ground travel experience more stressful than flying upside down in a hurricane.  And United’s response has got to be the worst form of resolution we have ever witnessed. Giving an insight into how much they and their sector truly care about their customers.

With the average number of people flying each year increasing, airlines are continuing to reduce the space afforded to passengers as they aim to increase the amount of people on their flights. Unlike the grocery retail sector, where we’ve seen discount brands like Aldi and Lidl disrupt the mainstream grocers with their simple ‘low price, quick service’ model, the Airline industry has been critically damaged by layered pricing strategies, overbooked flights and their reluctance to take their customers’ comfort and travel experience seriously.

If the Airline industry wants to buck this trend then it needs to look at its leading brands and learn from them. Southwest Airlines have ranked 9th in the USA Customer Experience Excellence Report, the US’s highest ranking airline. Southwest are an organisation that cares passionately about its customers; it empathises with the unfairness of hidden fees that other companies work into their price plans, and it wants the customer to receive the best deal possible. It calls its own approach ‘transfarency’, which means it doesn’t include extra charges for bags, additional luggage, or last minute flight changes or cancellations. As such, Southwest has performed strongly across The Six Pillars, particularly in Empathy, Expectations and Integrity, where its scores are 12 per cent higher than the US average.

Zappos in the USA and First Direct in the UK are two of the world’s leading CX companies. Both hire employees exclusively from the caring sector. They know that the best way to differentiate their businesses is via CX excellence. They also know that the best way to do this is via a hiring policy of caring and empathetic staff and training them across the key emotions of CX excellence.

Airlines have gone down the route of the Insurance and Telecoms sector where churn is regular and customers are viewed as numbers on a spreadsheet. Gone are the days when flying was an amazing experience, it has now been replaced with stress and inconvenience. But the outrage towards United Airlines last week shows that the customer’s patience with airlines has reached breaking point and the industry now need to put their hand up and accepted that it’s time for a change.