Are You Setting Yourself Up For Failure

The Situation:

My job entails a lot of travel and that has resulted in me amassing a decent number of miles on an airlines frequent flier program.

A few weeks back, I got an email from the airline announcing that they will equip their aircrafts with wi-fi and if I downloaded an app, I shall be able to have access to an array of inflight entertainment options.

I love watching movies. This was exciting news for me as it gave me an opportunity to catch up on movies that I had missed watching when they originally screened.

So, excitedly, I downloaded the app and was eagerly looking forward to my next trip on the airlines, which was coming up in the next couple of days.

On the day, I board the aircraft and eagerly ask the flight attendant about the wi-fi access. I was then informed by the attendant that the aircraft that we were flying was not equipped with this feature as yet. Though I was disappointed, I was looking forward to actually having access to all the movies soon.

On my return trip, I asked the check-in clerk if the aircraft that I was about to board had the in-flight entertainment system and realized that she had no idea about what I was talking. So, I asked the flight attendant and was yet again informed that this particular aircraft was not equipped with this feature yet. It was disappointing.

On my next flight, which was a much more busier sector (Bangalore – Mumbai), I tried to find out again  and was informed by the cabin-crew in-charge (yes, I did ask her this time, not relying on anyone else) that this feature was enabled, every time an aircraft went for its scheduled maintenance. For the in-flight entertainment to be made available on all the flights would easily take more than a month.

I have flown atleast three more sectors since the announcement and I am yet to see in-flight entertainment in the airline.

What Went Wrong:

This made me think – what made the airline announce this feature so far ahead of time, when almost none of their aircraft was equipped to offer this facility to their customers?

The only effect this left with their customers is a feeling of disappointment every time they flew on an aircraft that was not equipped with this feature.

This is a classic example of setting yourself up for failure Click To Tweet

What Would I Have Done:

If I were the person responsible for this communication at the airline, I would have done two things differently:

  1. I would NOT HAVE sent out an email announcing this feature to all the passengers. I would wait for them to come on-board and once they are there, I would announce this on the in-flight announcement system and request the passengers to download the app to make use of in-flight entertainment. This would have served two purposes – it introduces an element of positive surprise, which increases the customer satisfaction levels. And these passengers would then go out and tell their family members, friends and colleagues about this app. This makes them an insider along with the airline and makes them look cool. Again, this increases customer satisfaction and brand loyalty. This also creates word-of-mouth publicity for the airline.
  2. I would wait for atleast 50% aircrafts to have the facility before announcing this either on email or in-flight.

Conclusion:

5 Questions you could ask yourself, before sending out product announcements Click To Tweet
  1. Is there any benefit of letting our customers discover this for themselves, rather than us announcing it (if it is possible)?
  2. Can we enable our customers to spread the word about this rather than us doing this? Can we make our customers look good to their followers (on social media and social settings) when they spread the word about this?
  3. Is this the right time for me to communicate this to my customers? Is there any benefit of delaying this further?
  4. Is this the right medium for me to communicate this to my customers? Is there a better medium available?
  5. What do we want our customers to feel and do, once they become aware of this? How can we help them with this?

Answering these questions honestly will enable you to not set yourself up for failure, like the airlines did when it pre-announced the availability of its in-flight entertainment system.

So, the question that we all need to answer is the following:

Are you doing something that is setting yourself up for failure?

Customer Engagement: Ideas for Airlines to Improve Customer Engagement

A bright future for airlines who have good customer engagement
A bright future for airlines who have good customer engagement

The airline industry has been notoriously infamous about the poor customer experience and engagement. This has also played a big part on the overall profitability of the industry. The only airlines that are making profits are the one’s that have some semblance of good customer experience going.

If you take flights for work on a regular basis, you will agree that we spend enormous amounts of time reaching the airport, at the airport (both at the destination & the origin), on-board the aircraft and the drive away from the airports. So, I thought what could the airlines do to help us remain productive or engaged through the entire journey and below are some of the ideas that i could think of:

  1. Make available indoor games within the aircraft (games like crossword, Sudoku, playing cards, puzzles, lego blocks, chess, Chinese checkers, etc).
  2. In longer flights, run an impromptu crossword or sudoku competition. Give the winners a small token of appreciation.
  3. Play dumb charades on-board.
  4. Create a short story competition for passengers flying on a flight. Announce the theme for the short story post take off. Passengers need to write these stories on board the flight and submit before the flight lands.
  5. Make all these stories available for download for free.
  6. Hire an editor and select the top 100 short stories and publish them as a book. Give the book away to all passengers flying on a specific day on your airline.
  7. Use the “Best Journey Ever” and “Worst journey Ever” themes for the short story contest. This will tell you what passengers value while travelling and what they hate. Reduce/eliminate what they hate and increase and enhance what they love.
  8. At peak times, provide a newspapers or magazines to passengers in queue (at the check-in counter) which they can drop at the counter while collecting their boarding pass.
  9. Put a game of sudoku or crossword or an interesting quote at the back of the boarding pass.
  10. Publicly share the names of the people who are travelling on the same flight (with passenger permission, also share whatever they are willing to share, company, role, etc). This would provide passengers to connect and network instead of just pass time.
  11. Run a contest inviting passengers to shoot themselves making the safety announcement and submit on YouTube. Pick top videos and reward them. Use some of the ideas on board and also announce the name of the passenger who submitted that idea.
  12. Provide 2 stickers (smiley and sad face) during boarding. Request the customers to stick the smiley based on their experience on-board the aircraft.

These are some ideas that i think can be implemented with not much expense and at the same time will dramatically improve the customer engagement on-board the aircraft.

Can you think of some ideas that airlines could use to improve their customer engagement? Please share them here as well. Maybe, some airline might use some of these ideas and our travel experience better.