I am a frequent flyer—almost 2 million miles on Delta, platinum status on American, even a bunch of flights each year on Southwest. And, I can tell you, with absolute certainty, that there’s a huge difference between the service of airlines. It’s very significant between Delta and American.
Delta has extraordinary customer service and they’ve worked in recent years to make it even better. I’ve seen Delta captains come out to thank frequent flyers. Another who did a non-PA briefing just for the first class cabin. Still another wrote a note to someone who was a 3-million-mile flyer.
But, it’s more than just the pilots. Their ground teams and flight attendants are more responsive; friendlier. They’re more concerned about how their customers are doing. Delta provides absolutely incredible service to their high-level, elite customers. If you have a problem, or a flight is delayed, they’re on it and working to solve your problem, frequently before you even know about it. They’re also great about keeping you informed when a flight is delayed.
American Airlines has lots of great people. I’m writing this on an American flight back to Phoenix after our Sales Manager’s High Performance Boot Camp. There’s a pretty decent flight attendant in first class, but she doesn’t have the spark that you’ll frequently see on Delta.
Also, a couple of her colleagues clearly didn’t take their happy pills this morning. Why is this? Some people say it’s a hangover from the merger with US Air. That could be true. But, I can tell you that, as a general rule, the American employees aren’t anywhere near as positive as their colleagues at Delta. The way they treat their customers, even frequent flyers like me, reflects that.
Does this matter? I’d say it does, big-time, and it offers a lesson to TV broadcast leaders in challenging times.
While I’m never overjoyed to leave town… I speak for free, but get paid to travel… I’m always happy when the trip involves flying Delta. I feel let down when I have to use American, which happens a whole lot more now that I’m based in Arizona. So, if I have a choice, I’ll always pick Delta. I’ll likely even pick Southwest over American, even though I have no status there and all seats are first class on Southwest!!
Our clients have choices. Even dominant stations are closer to their competitors in ratings than ever before. Our business is getting harder. We have fewer customers, frequently spending less money, than they’ve done in the past. Keeping those clients loyal to you might be more important than ever.
How do you do that? I write frequently about GM’s involvement with KEY (large) clients. Meaningful value-added helps (I don’t mean BONUS weight). Understanding the importance of teaching anyone who interfaces with clients how to impress them and also stressing the need to say thank you helps. But it starts at the top with an attitude that says, “At KXXX, our clients are important. We want to treat them so well that they’ll know it.”
It’s also about hiring people who share that vision. Our Sales Manager’s Boot Camp just finished up this week at Tampa’s Renaissance Hotel. I think it’s the 4th or 5th time we’ve been there. We, and our guests, have probably spent close to $500K with them. Since we’ll likely keep going back there, what’s the lifetime value of our relationship with them? Lifetime customer value is a very smart way to look at customers and then think about how you want to treat them.
Years ago, I would sometimes do 10 minutes during a seminar on customer service. In those minutes, I’d suggest that no one remembers average customer service. The only types of service they remember is when it’s bad and when it’s incredible. Average isn’t enough to WOW a client.
In Tampa, there are literally dozens of hotels near the Renaissance, yet we’re incredibly loyal to them. Guess who has caused that loyalty? It’s not the managers. It’s the people. Like the waiter, an older man who would come over to me each morning and offer to get me coffee. The crew taking care of our big meeting room. Another waiter who thanked me for being back on the property.
When the lowest paid people in a company are treating customers like that, someone is doing something right. Maybe they’re studying Delta.
Maybe we should as well.
How does your station treat clients? How would your clients answer that? The way they feel about you is one of the “demand” factors we have some control over as we enter into our very different future.
Have a GSM or GM meeting in your future? Why not have Jim Doyle or John Hannon speak to your meeting about how to turn your sales staff into a Sales Force? We promise powerful, thought-provoking content customized to your company’s needs. Contact Jim Doyle at email@example.com or call 941-926-SELL.