When are they going to start offering wireless internet on commercial flights? Wouldn’t it be nice if I was able to actually post this blog as soon as I’m done writing it on board my flight from Dubai back to Beirut?
Aside from painting a picture of my surrounding as I write this blog, the opening lines are actually at the heart of our discussion topic for today – customer feedback. One of the basic elements of any successful business is their attention to what their customers have to say about their product or service. I wonder how airline companies do it! Due to the nature or more specifically the scope of my business, I tend to travel around 60% of my time from one country to another, and I have had my fair experience in different airlines – Middle East Airlines (MEA), Emirates, Qatar Airways, Gulf Air, Egypt Air, KLM, British Air, BMI, Air France, Alitalia to name a few (or not). Never had I had the chance to express my opinion about the overall service experience – unless I ask for a customer “complaint” form, I can never voice my opinion. Even that, I need to actually call the flight attendant and ask for it, who then will try to find out what the problem is, and I’m pressured into answering something that I might have wanted to discreetly mention! But what if I want to say something good, or recommend something, shouldn’t they be interested in knowing, or are they only interested in my negative feedback? Don’t they want to know what they are doing right so they can make it even better? Don’t they want to know what could make my experience better? Don’t they want my business again? Why am I being taken for granted?
Some may argue that they receive an email every now and then from the airline company asking them to rate their service – guess what, for them to have your email, it means that you’re most likely subscribed to their loyalty program and you don’t usually do that unless you’re forced to use this airline (since no other company flies to that destination) or you like them – so chances are your answers will be all favorable! This is an industry that is all about service since the prices are very much the same and are not grounds for competition. (Of course, I’m not including low cost airlines, such as Fly Dubai and Easy Jet – those have a different positioning and customer expectation are much lower!) This industry has a goldmine of customer feedback and they don’t use it.
Listening to your customer is crucial to your success! However, it will backfire if you ask for your customer opinion and do nothing about it. Here’s an example you could probably relate to; imagine the scene where you look at your partner and ask them if there was something wrong, and then they open up and start telling you, and you “pretend” to listen, then when you’re expected to say or do something, you don’t! I would recommend you to leave the room immediately before it gets ugly. Always remember that when you ask a customer for their opinion, you automatically raise their expectations, and subsequently increase your responsibilities towards that customer.
Social media is a free source of customer insight and feedback. If you work for a company like for example Microsoft, just use twitter.search and look up what’s being said about the company. You’ll be amazed of what you’d find. Use the search results to engage with your customers; those that are not happy as well as those that are – it’s equally important!
You’re next big idea has a high probability of coming from your customers’ feedback. Think About It!