Don’t You Secretly Hate Having Customers?

Thanks to several flight delays, I spent 10 hours in an airport waiting for a 2-hour flight. Trying to reach Baltimore from Atlanta, I was delayed by a plane in Kansas City, that was delayed by weather. Obviously, airlines do not control weather, or delays caused by weather, but they DO control our experience of those delays.

Airports have essentially become homogenized strip malls selling low quality food and services at theme park prices. Worse, it seems no one in charge of customer experience at an airline or airport has ever visited a busy theme park.

Why is the airport experience so bad?

Airlines have been around longer than Disney Land, yet they seem to have learned nothing about lines, customer happiness, or engagement. There appears to be little to no incentive for airports to desire happy customers.

Imagine if Disney ran our airports. Waiting in long TSA lines would at least be entertaining. Prices would fluctuate based on demand. There might be better line management, with quick pass options. No doubt planes would fill faster and run more efficiently–perhaps even more safely.

After reaching my destination, I settled into my hotel room and logged onto their Wi-Fi, which was, itself, an effort in frustration. A few hours later, when I woke up, I had to log on again because the internet access expired.

Why do hotels reset their wi-fi every 24 hours? Are they afraid their transient guests will fly back from their homes to steal the hotel’s internet? On top of that, I could have paid for “upgraded” (meaning “faster than dial-up”) service. Why would you create a caste system for your guests?

The hotel internet and the airport line experience are both indicative of the same problem–businesses that have no connection to the people who consume their services.

The joke is, everybody knows how bad the airport experience is… except the airports and airlines! Everyone I know that has ever stayed at a hotel has complained about hotel internet. The only people who do not seem to know what a frustrating morass it is for their customers… is the hotels!

How many ways does your business undermine its success by being oblivious to the experience being had by your customers? How many pain points do you have between you and the people who want to buy (and enjoy buying) your products or services?

Where are you creating friction instead of smoothing the path for your clients to keep coming back for more?

Is it your return process? Is it the attitude of your front line employees (which means you might want to look at your hiring process)? Is it the jenky credit card reader that holds up your lines? Is it the long lines themselves, inviting clients to complain about your store to each other while waiting to give you their money?

Find the “invisible” pain points and shed light on them. If you can’t resolve them immediately, educate your customers on what you are doing to try.

If you are not working to create a better customer experience, you can rest assured your competition is.