My Last Best Experience: Delta Airlines
by Jim Sheehan
What separates an exceptional customer experience from a standard customer experience? One differentiator is proactive customer problem solving. Proactively solving issues before they arise, rather than addressing them after the fact, can go a long way in creating an experience that builds customer loyalty. If issues are inevitable, helping loyal customers navigate them as smoothly and painlessly as possible also contributes to exceptional experiences.
These small differences might explain why Jim Sheehan’s last flight with Delta Airlines stuck out to him as such a memorable experience.
Many of us have been there: the frustrating uncertainty when a flight is delayed, and you don’t know when you’ll be able to fly out—or worse, you might even be late to an important event.
That’s the position Jim found himself in when his flight to London for an important meeting had a shorter than expected layover in New York. On his way to the airport, he received a text that his flight out of Minneapolis was delayed. He soon received another text that Delta Airlines had rebooked his flight from New York so that he could take a later flight and still make his connection. When his plane landed in New York, they were grounded longer than expected on the tarmac, and again Jim worried that he would miss his connection—and his important meeting in London. When he disembarked the plane, he was met by an employee on the jet bridge holding a placard with his name on it, who took him down to the tarmac to a waiting car and drove him across the airport to his next flight. As soon as he was seated on the plane, the doors were closed, and the plane took off. Suffice to say, Jim made his meeting in London.
If there’s any industry that gets a bad rap for customer experience, it’s air travel. From unexpected delays, to worn out jokes about airline food, the entire experience can feel impersonal at best. Despite challenges outside of their control, Delta Airlines did their best to show Jim that his needs mattered to them.
By looking ahead at what Jim would need in order to make his flight, and ensuring that everything on the back and front ends were covered, Delta turned what could have been a disaster into a positive customer experience that he’ll remember every time he needs to book a flight.
Data is critically important to informing decisions and delivering customer service experiences that lead to maximum ROI for your organization.Jim Sheehan, Chief Operating Officer at TTEC Digital
From proactively rebooking Jim’s flights to meeting him on the jet bridge, Delta Airlines showed that Jim’s business mattered to them. Not only was it great customer service, it was also a savvy, data-backed business priority.
Jim travels frequently for business, almost every single week—and Delta knew this from their customer segmentation practices. Retaining customers is an important part of a good CX strategy. Recurring customers tend to spend more, buy more frequently, and refer new customers through word of mouth. A 5% increase in customer retention can increase company revenue anywhere from 25-95%.
By proactively solving his travel issues and prioritizing his experience, Delta turned a travel headache into a memorable experience that showed how customer loyalty should be rewarded.