“When the moments of truth go unmanaged, the quality of service regresses to mediocrity.“
– Karl Albrecht / Ron Zemke
Apart from American Airlines, most of the other airlines here in the US have reported profits for this past quarter. The race is on for airlines to win and retain each and every customer. This means that airlines need to cater to their customer needs and wants, and at the same time understand how their competitors are wooing their customers. Stickiness with the airline customers is even more important now. It’s an often repeated lie, “airline service is a commodity to consumers.” Airlines can no longer behave as a mere commodity. A big part of stickiness with the customer is the experience the customer obtains within the various touch points along the customer journey.
Airlines need to see the journey through the eyes of the customers. Countless books and research articles have been written about customer interaction. Many airlines have even gone as far as identifying all the touch points. But, very few have implemented a unified customer experience. Each touch point might just as well belong to any other airline; there is no uniformity or point of view. This points to one very important fact-Many airlines are yet to map out the customer journey as a customer retention strategy. Airlines have an opportunity to reach to their customers and provide them with an experience that matters, is relevant and makes a difference.
Each customer has a story to tell, good, bad or indifferent. Chances are that good stories lead to customer stickiness. These are the moments of truth that differentiate one company from another. In the airline industry where customers don’t see any difference between one airline and another, the levels of service can’t be average. Imagine this; Southwest Airlines has about 500,000 moments of truth. Every moment on the customer journey leads to customer stickiness. The promise of Southwest Airlines is the ‘dedication to the highest quality of customer service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and company spirit’. Every employee of the company is aligned with this brand promise. That alignment is key; it is the secret sauce. Another way to put it is that, the experience is the brand.
Anthony O. Putnam, in the book, “Marketing Your Services,” says, “Alignment comes from getting all your energy focused on one direction – in making sure that everything you say and do is congruent and seen that way by your clients.”