I travel almost every week if I am lucky because most of my consulting is done in the field with my clients. Since I fly so much I have “status” with several airlines and frequently receive an upgrade to “first class”. I really believe if you call something “first class”, your customer has high expectations for their experience and the “first class” experience better consistently equal a 5 star over the top customer experience!
Recently I was returning from a client engagement in New York City and was upgraded to “First class”. This was a Friday evening flight and while it had been a great week with a great client I was looking forward to a relaxing flight in first and a couple glasses of red wine on the way to Atlanta. The experience I received was anything but “first class”!
Customers today have high expectations for experience grounded in the great experiences they have received across all facets of their life. The impact of this is they have raised the bar for great experiences and continue to do so at a rapid rate. Organizations that aspire to deliver “first class” service experiences must understand and stay ahead of customer expectations. Unfortunately the flight attendants on this flight were far more interested in delivering the minimum level of service so they could get back to socializing with their associates than delivering outstanding service.
When we have high expectations based on previous experiences with an organization we tend to have our service radar on high. I have to admit my service radar is on high most of the time given what I do. I began to notice we weren’t receiving “first class” attention very fast when it took forever for the flight attendant to bring us our first beverage. It went downhill from there. When I took my empty glass up to the galley to get a refill and found the entire flight attendant crew hiding in the galley to eat and socialize I knew they didn’t get it and we were lost for the evening!
Customer expectations continue to rise significantly (up 33% in the last 12 months according to recent research) and show no signs of stopping. Customers compare their experiences with our organization not just to competitors but to experiences they have received across their entire life. What are you doing to make sure you understand your customers’ expectations on an ongoing basis? Have you provided the tools, training and leadership to ensure all your employees consistently deliver the appropriate customer experience? I you are going to call it first class it really better be first class service!
John R. Patterson is a renowned customer loyalty speaker and consultant. He has co-authored three books with Chip Bell including the award winning international best seller Wired and Dangerous: How Your Customers Have Changed and What To Do About It. Find out more about John at www.johnrpatterson.com/.
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