346: Smaller Bathrooms and Premium Seating: Talking Airline Customer Experience


Welcome to crack the customer code where your hosts Jeanie and atom unlocked the secrets to keeping your customers. Happy and coming back for more. I spent a lot of time on airplanes. How can you spend a decent amount of my life in a tube with wings? Yes. To what the way. Yes. So you know, what I thought it would be cool. And we thought it would be cool. Also, I don't know why saying I, but we thought it would be cool to just talk about airlines because you know, part of customer service part of how we experience customer service customers is just what we do. I mean, if you go to NASCAR part of the customer service, you experiences. What happens at the track at the you know when you go to Daytona. Would you go to the Indy? Whatever right. Any whatever you tell them. But so for us it's air travel, and I'm sure for a lot of our listeners. It's also air travel. It's a big part of the customer experiences. We have in also more importantly, it's a very poignant remarkable part of the customer experiences. We have because it's generally around a process, not all that pleasant. There's ocean. As we talk about it and weekend rule pickup ocean associated with air travel. Well, and I've I've shared this before. But like, I swear him the most negative like the voice in my head is the most negative when I'm walking through an airport. Like, I think everybody is silly. And in my way, and it's terrible. I have to really work on it. Because it's it's just such a place of so much negative stimuli. Then I think my defenses are up, and I'm just like ready for it. And I also feel like the only place I ever feel claustrophobic is when I'm on a plane on the ground and find flying, but the minute we get on the ground. I'm like get me off this plane. And so it's and I think part of that is just the exile of feeling out of control and feeling like, you know, that they don't really care at that point. You know, like once once they've landed the plane, it's up to you, folks. I well, I think this may be the different airlines that we go on. I think there are a lot of on usually, which we'll talk about definitely cares. So for me, the only time I won't say the only time, obviously, if I'm tired or stress, I'm human so Hickson happen anytime, but the time that is pretty much universally is unpleasant for me is that waiting to get on the plane. Everyone is trying to make sure they get the overhead. The best thing. So I'm going to go ahead and say, I'm pretty much a delta. I mean, I've had good experiences on a lot of airlines. I appreciate the customer service at a few other airlines. We'll talk about but I basically what I do I committed to delta being in the southeast this year. And I it's it's my favorite from experience standpoint. And what they have. But they do not have it at every airport. They have it at Hartsfield where the gates are bigger is they actually sort of took the south west concept except with assigned seating. And they have premium priority one two and three. So they actually have those little stands just like southwest does except it's not a free for all. It's just making sure that everyone doesn't all crowd the gate at one time, and it is absolutely beautiful. I love it. When I'm on my connecting flight in hartsville because everything else was like something out of Lord of the flies. It is it is tough. And now they keep changing it to. So like a few years ago, there were only five groups to be boarded. Now, they're up to nine. When I'm flying American, and and there was five narrow places where like O'Hare some of the gates are right on top of each other. And so you're out in like the main walkway of hair trying to hear and see what are they doing now? And excuse me with my rolly. You know, actually, I am in front of you. Sorry, I'm sorry. So it's just like it's kind of a mess, and if I can segue a little bit here. But this is fascinating to me. So I fly a lot of American Airlines, I fly others too. But being in Chicago, it's one of their hubs. I had a lot of direct flights that way, which is important to me have enough status where I get the early boarding and things like that. But they just came out with some news and they being American. I don't think they're the ones who came out with this. I think it actually got leaked. But essentially what they did was they asked their employees so not their customers, but their employees for. For a description of American Airlines three words, and what they're starting to realize is that they need to do a lot more listening because some of the answers that came in were pretty shocking one flight, attendant, replied, greed depressing. Sad. That is pretty telling. And so. This is reported in ink, by the way, as as well as other places, but that's where I'm getting this information Inc magazine. But there the fact that their employees are giving these things I think is pretty telling that they need to do a little more work on who they are. And my my hope and what I'm seeing signs of is that they're starting to realize that the service that they provide. Needs to change that they need to listen a little bit more. And so may actually encouraged by this news because it shows that they're listening in that they're trying and I'm noticing little tweaks in their service to try to make it a little more compelling for folks. But I know well, that's a good example of what delta consistently wins. You know, one of the best places to work. Right. It's it's all it's on those lists a lot. And we always talk about right? The employee experience leads to the customer experience. I think air travel is a very good example of that. I think you see that with south west the other airline that has a lot of accolades for being a great place to work, and they're obviously done for their customer experience. So with American I don't I don't know about one employee outta ten twenty thousand thirty thousand employees comments, of course. But obviously, the article was there was more than there's that one comment and exton collecting it in process and the so I mean, one whatever one employee at tens of thousands means nothing. But yeah, I mean, if if that's a pattern that employee is Representative of a significant portion, then obviously that's a challenge. I think what's interesting to you. We're we're talking. One of the interviews recently about that idea of. What you came control. What you can't. Right. So a lot. I think we've thought about this in previous episodes about air travel. There's a lot of parts of the experience the airlines don't drain right? Okay. Even just practically it is literally regulation or just from the standpoint of safety comes first and everything else a second. And I think from that even from that standpoint, if you look at like, the example, I just gave about Hartsfield like so delta tried to control something that they could control which is putting those stanchions there. And every time I go to delta terminal doesn't have like it. And sometimes it's pretty obvious. They just can't do it. Like, there's no rain this crowded on those things at Hartfield Bill Gates, but you know, the other aspect of it is tagging tagging sort of relating the experience with the product. And then separating the experience with from the problem. What I mean by that is so southwest is literally a different product. Right that delta Delta's considered a premium product. There's no I write for business travelers first class or as a priority class American is a more of a direct competitive product to delta selfless. Really isn't. Right. I mean, if you're a big power executive, and you fly gazillion miles a year. You know, you may like south west for the service. But you have to basically say I don't have status. I'm not going to be able to use that is that important to me. That's a different product. Really? Well, yes. And I think that it's it's about I mean, even their planes are different. And even there the like there is no first class on a southwest plane. And so if that's important you if that's the product that you're looking for you're not gonna choose that. You're not going to select it as a customer a one hundred percent. But I, you know, that's where the experience I mean, why is south west been able to do so? Will grow so much with what he's ordered fear just a different but lower level product will call them. I it's it's hard to say that because they're so good at everything a less premium product. I think that's the best way to phrase him. That's fair to sell. So so it's a less premium product, they have less premium pricing. Even though that is definitely not what it used to be the prices. You know, what I look at south west. I think we thought about this is not a bargain airline anymore. Really? Well, yeah. You you have to look specifically giving scenarios you can't make that assumption anymore that it's always going to be the cheapest, but the. But I think they would they would embrace that description. They would say yes, we are. We are appealing to a customer base that where service is important quality is important and value is very important. And those those are what drive us, but the service is always what they focused on to to differentiate to make it a more pleasant experience. You look at south west. It's a different attitude. It's a different service level than some of those airlines that you hear about that have the same kind of pricing structure, but the people aren't just not treated as well and people remember that. And they they talk about it. And they it's not worth it. That value is not worth it to them. So even though they're similar products. The service is what makes southwest stand so much stand out so much from those other bargain, if you will and putting those in air quotes, which you can't see because this is audio, but I'm doing it air quotes around. Bargain. Right. Well, they're not a troop bargain. Like barebones like prohibited us, basically, hopefully, get you there. Right. Expect anything L rain. You know, they're not one of those obviously through sorta in the middle, right and service wiser not in the middle their exception. Yeah. They. At least I assume I think I've seen this on a couple of American flights, but Delta's taking a cue from that. I've had a really witty kind of people do the announcements all that. What's interesting is I've had on a I assume southwest is inspired this over time. That's been going on for years at this point. But yeah, I've had a lot of times then in first class, and the captain actually comes out and just talk to the first class cabinet, and they do that on a lot of jet blue flights where they talked to the entire cabin. So that the pilot will actually come out the captain will come out and introduce themselves and say, here's what we're looking at for the flight time, and blah, blah, blah. So you feel like, oh, I know this person, which is really really nice. Yeah. It really is. It really is a great time. And like I said I'm seeing things right now little tiny tweaks on American that. I it gives me hope that they're moving into this. And the fact that they're doing these surveys with their employees. That's a good sign too. But I I will say I did to see an article recently about them making the bathroom smaller, which I can't honestly I like I. Yeah. I I can't I don't know how how impossible it's like, I don't I don't. No, I really don't. I don't know. PTSD from this just start. This like crazy. And so that's I wonder in you know, it's bad. You know, the I haven't done macro economic zone album. Sorry, what Alex sort of microeconomics, but it was very interesting. If you sort of look at the industry in five years, or we're going to be where it's just really premium and really barebones. We've talked about a new industries is how the middle gets squeezed, right? Because it's just like, it's I think they're they're killing coach, right? They're making coach worse and worse. I'm not sure deltas. But I don't think I don't think they're improving. Let's put it that way. But the some of the other majors are really they're the pitch is getting worse for the, of course, Americans are getting bigger. So that makes sense, right? You know, if you look at that. I mean, I know, sir. Absolutely delta strategy as far as I can tell it is. To real to give a good experience in coach. But to really give you an amazing experience and priority and certainly in business sludge. I and you pay for that. If you don't on you don't have status, but if you actually pay or if you don't get it through status you pay for it. All right. And I think the other thing that they're doing is. Instead of you know, back in the day if you were in coach you and coach everybody had the same experience. Now, they're segmenting everything so much so that you can actually purchase a very low cost ticket that would be comparable to some of those bargain airlines. But that means you give up certain things, you give up having can't pick your sluggish on the plane, right? Yeah. You can't pick your c or you can't even have a carry on that goes above you. You only get the little room in front of the seat in front of you at your feet. And so you have to behave oxygen mask and. The event of emergency Tesla's. Yes, they do. Yeah. And you can still purchase a meal, but you know, there are so many things that you know, the way they're looking at it. And of course, they're trying to be profitable. And they're trying to compete, but there are certain things that make me wonder, you know, when when does the product become so much about, you know, this really how am I treat it as a customer, Wendy when does that weight happen where we go. My gosh, we're just not going to do this anymore. Order. That's where you look at the industry. And I think if you got it as sort of bifurcated in the little bit may descend up matching society and employees does the middle's slowly discipline, not even slowly intermediary moderately disappearing from society, and we're getting to a lot of Borer like Central America. A lot of ways we're we're gonna have a lot of people that are at the lower end of the spectrum and chunk look can afford whatever the higher end of the spectrum, and you may see airflow airline seating. You know airline reflect that reflect that yeah, it's already starting. I guess, but yeah, it's it's interesting to think about these types of experiences as the product because it really does come down to. Yes. Will you get there on a plane? Yes. That's like check that's really the product. But how much of it is tied back to service. How much of the value that people perceived or realistically like, you know, they're perceived values values. So if people feel like I can't stand being treated this way, I'm willing to pay more. That's that's value. That is around the service aspect of it. So I think it's it's interesting because there there's a lot to think about when it comes to customer experiences like this one. So I think what we're saying is just to think about it in those terms of you know, if the product is something that is so tied to service. You have to think about that service as part of the product for sure and you have to know your your lane your positioning. Right. You have to know or you the premium or not premium where you the, you know, the wacky fund one or those who stayed corporate one whatever it may be whatever your industry, but knowing what your value proposition is right? You offer and they fear. That goes with the expectations around that is super important. Yep. For sure for from air travel, Jeannie, you know. I think we're going to keep getting those lessons for a while. I should just end with delta, I heart you, that's sweet delta come to Chicago and create a hub. That's what I'm going to say. Yeah. Well, you know, what if I get status at the end of the year, then then I then I heart you, we'll say well. Love is conditional. Still sort of fun. It was just a you might be able to tell we were sort of. Winging the little words like let's talk about air travel. We travel so much, and this was sort of fun. So please forgive us. It was a little bit stream of consciousness, we know. But we know a lot of you can relate to it and thought it was really interesting to just dig into the experience side of air travel. And let us know what you think let us know what you've learned from your time in a tube with wings. While you make it sound so appealing, Jamie. I know right. Well, hey, we do appreciate you being here. So thank you so much for listening to crack, the customer code feel free to check out C, suite radio for all sorts of business content like this. I'm Jeannie Walters. And you learn more about me and our writing speaking training et cetera at experience, investigators dot com. Four. And there is a reason I am on the plane all the time because I'm out there doing speeches customer service, workshops and training, and you can learn all about how to get me to fly to you at customers that stick dot com until next time to carry yourself and take care of your customers.

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