Providing good customer service on an airplane shouldn’t be difficult. Sure, there are rude customers to deal with. There are also plenty of customers who need help or don’t understand the proper way to board a plane. But, there are plenty of other jobs in the world where people have to deal with belligerent customers and folks who don’t know what they’re doing.
What exactly does good customer service mean to you? On an airplane, most people don’t even interact with the crew other than maybe to be offered a drink.
View From The Wing cites data that seems to suggest greeting a customer in a premium cabin by name and serving them a beverage makes a huge difference in their opinion of the service. That’s pretty surprising to me.
For starters, I generally don’t drink alcohol on planes. I also bring my own bottled water so I’m not dependent on the crew. Maybe that’s a default position because I’ve pre-conditioned myself to “poor service”, not getting offered a beverage.
Getting recognized by name doesn’t really move the needle for me, either. It’s one of the more amusing parts of the flight (Good morning, Mr. Pee-ah-zoo-reelio!). I’m much more attuned to a warm smile versus a frown. A crabby flight attendant who manages to blurt out the name on the sheet of paper in front of him/her doesn’t make me more likely to appreciate the service.
Sometimes, Numbers Are Just Numbers
Ever wait a really long time to get food in a restaurant? Once you’re in a bad mood, everything else can just seem worse. The food isn’t as hot as it’s supposed to be, maybe not as tasty. In my day job, I see plenty of survey data from customers. Initial impressions can set the tone for the rest of the customer service experience.
However, if I had to bet, a good chunk of customers filling out surveys don’t actually remember if the flight attendant greeted them by name. I couldn’t tell you if I was greeted by name on my flight from a couple of days ago. I have a general recollection of the service, but not terribly detailed (oddly, I recall I wasn’t offered a drink prior to departure).
The Final Two Pennies
I’m still a bit stunned that customers who believe they were greeted by name and received a drink before departing think the service was noticeably better. I’m guessing that people filling out these surveys don’t recall every detail of their flights. There’s really two questions here:
1. Does being recognized by a flight attendant and offered a beverage make it a better experience for you?
2. Do you actually remember if you were greeted by name or offered a beverage on your most recent flight?
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