From smack-bang in the middle of the bell curve

emotionally having good times with joy

In airlines, opinion on January 28, 2007 at 5:39 am

scenario 1: The attendant approaches your car with a friendly smile as you come to a stop outside the terminal. As you step out, he politely asks “Sir, x airline?” and when you shake your head, he loses interest, the smile disappears and he moves towards the vehicle behind you.

scenario 2: The chap manning the boarding gate is glancing at each boarding pass and punching them into the system. As he hands each pass back, he sends you on your way with a cheery “Have a good flight sir”. An uncertain looking passenger approaches and asks him “Can you tell me where the y flight (other airline) to Mumbai is boarding?” The response, a terse “No, I have no idea” as he goes back to loading his flight.

2 instances where the ground staff of respective airlines, while adequately aware of the concept of customer service, have not been briefed about the logic of being equally courteous to those who are not current but could easily become future customers. In my mind, a customer would be at his most vulnerable to switching when he has been at the receiving end of some poor treatment by his current service provider. In either case, a golden opportunity to convince them to switch by making them aware of the treatment they could expect was lost.

The alternate versions of the 2 scenarios:
1. The attendant says “Am sorry you’re not travelling with us sir, Have a nice flight”..*smile*. The passenger lugs his luggage in thinking how it’d be nice to have assistance at this stage.

2. The boarding staff gets the other person standing at the gate (doing nothing) to find out which gate was boarding the other airline’s flight (shouldn’t be too difficult to find out). The passenger leaves very aware of the difference in customer service and the people boarding the coach are reinforced with how they made the right choice in spite of paying 500 bucks more than the other airline.

Also made clear how its all well and good to draw up a marketing strategy that defines customer-service as the axis of focus, but the difficulty of getting it implemented by every last person in the organisation.

Needless to say, this line of thought got me comparing the different airlines I’ve frequented over the last 6 months. The ‘methodology’:

  • While the split is far from even, my cutoff is 5 flights
  • Forced ranking out of 4 on each parameter with differing weightages
  • ‘Check-in’ is the time-spent in line, courtesy extended by staff, speed of transaction (indian still uses manual systems as opposed to sabre or such by the others)
  • ‘Timeliness’ only gets 30% because a large part of whether a flight leaves on time is not in the realm of control of the airline’s operations
  • ‘In-flight comfort’ is a function of newness of the aircraft, legspace, seats

  1. If only you could extrapolate the ratings from one person to the whole population :-)… but yeah… its neatbut personally for me… i would rate air sahara as just 1 point… ever since the deal with Jet fell through… their service levels have been falling like crazy…

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