Get the easy stuff right.
A perfect product or service won’t take you far if you serve it up cold. Lack of caring delivery will sink most any perfect product or service.
. . . It can even sink your next flight—or at least your perception of it. Air travel, more than other aspects of modern life, illustrates the astonishing, disproportionate emphasis people put on caring delivery. Perhaps in no other industry do companies hold the lives of their customers as completely in their hands as do the airlines.
Fortunately, the commercial airline industry and its regulators hold us in very, very safe hands: Did you know that, as I write this, there hasn’t been a single commercial jet passenger fatality in the United States in the past three years?
That’s an extraordinary achievement. About as close to a ”perfect product” as I can imagine. And there was a little article in the paper about it, at the end of the first recent fatality-free year. But the article was dwarfed by the column inches devoted to passenger frustration with customer service issues: surly flight attendants, baggage fees, overcrowding, and–do I even need to say it?–broken Taylor guitars.
The fact is, this disparity in press coverage pretty accurately mirrors how passengers react. Whenever I ask at a business keynote speech “what is the only thing that really should matter in air travel?” the answer I get, with absolute unanimity, is “safety.” But the audiences at my speeches also unanimously agree that what bends them out of shape, in reality, are little signs of uncaring: flights canceled with abrupt or insufficient explanation, inflexible gate agents, peanut wrappers in seatbacks.
Passengers, in other words, take safety for granted and perseverate over a lack of caring.
In your business, of course you need to make sure to get the hard stuff right: Make sure your planes don’t crash. But don’t forget the softer stuff, the arguably easier stuff. Or you won’t get far with your customers.