Tag Archives: Airlines

What can Associations learn from Airline Customer Service?

I travel a lot. And, I don’t mind having an opinion about my travel experiences. I am also very heavily influenced by customer service experiences that I witness or have personally. This is a post about an experience I was afforded yesterday and it made me think about what we could do in Associations to create some WOW for our members.

About a year ago I wrote a post about the opportunity @QantasAirways had on a LAX – SYD international flight to WOW their highly credentialed frequent flyers. There were Gold and Platinum Frequent Flyers on that flight sitting near me in Economy seats not far from empty Business Class seats. I felt Qantas squandered an opportunity to give those customers a taste of the upgrade experience and create raving fans from already committed customers.

Most everyone, and particularly frequent flyers, will know the Qantas brand has taken a hammering in 2011 with now two botched social media campaigns under its belt on top of them shutting the airline down during significant periods of industrial action.

So, it is pleasing to be able report an airline taking advantage of an opportunity where it matters most – directly with their customer; and, in this case that customer was me.

Having recently joined the Board of a small professional association (#SMAANZ) I was required to attend their Annual Conference & AGM in Melbourne travelling there from my Sydney home at my own expense. So, I was thrifty and paid for the cheapest airfare on the market at the time which happened to be a @VirginAustralia flight.

Now, I normally fly @QantasAirways without fail having earned Gold FF and with Qantas Club access. It was opportune to try @VirginAustralia knowing they are actively seeking the engage people like me – frequent flyers and normally loyal @QantasAirways business customers.

On the way to the airport I even tweeted that I was looking forward to the flight being on time and “on brand” meaning a little fun with great customer service that @VirginAustralia pride themselves on.

I was booked on the last flight of the day DJ895 to Sydney arriving back in Sydney at 2155hrs.With Velocity Gold status I enjoyed the premium check in and security line but was not expecting what happened when I boarded the plane. However,  With the cheapest fare ticket I did not expect my seat number to be changed to 2C. I was seated in Premium Economy on the new 737-800 aircraft.

The seat was comfortable, plenty of space. Food and beverages were included and Bec the flight attendant was excellent to the four of us; none  of whom had experienced Premium Economy before.

Kudos @VirginAustralia for:

  • knowing enough about your guests to know that I had never travelled Premium Economy before but was a Velocity Gold member;
  • taking some initiative and using the space on the plane to put the question in my mind about which airline I will travel for the many flights, domestic and international, I have coming up in my schedule.
  • being savvy enough to time your initiative right given the woes of your major competitor but doing it with some class by not outright trying to poach my business.

I am confident there is something in this for Associations to learn about managing data, listening across all communications channels and delivery high performance customer service.


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