“Inside Out” Corporate Behavior: Airlines Take Passengers for a Ride Before the Flight


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“Did you have a good flight?” This is the usual question that everyone is asked when they come back from a long-distance vacation. For an industry that has so much potential for making people happy, why is it that airlines are constantly surprising us with their “inside out” attitude toward customers? Great Customer Experiences are built “outside in,” rather than “inside out.”

What this means is if you are “outside in,” you find out what your customers want and change your organization to meet their needs accordingly. If you are “inside out,” however, you do what is good for your organization first and impose the experience that results on the customer.

There are many articles demonstrating “inside out” behavior in the holiday industry that clearly show how they are more interested in themselves than their customers. A recent article in The Times of London entitled, Travel Light or Face a Ban, told how Ryan Air decided to ban heavy bags and force customers to carry only hand luggage.

The reason? Michael O’Leary, chief executive, is reported to have said, “We want to find a way of banning hold baggage, which represents a large part of our airport costs. I can go away for two weeks with just my overnight bag.”

So the normal “kitchen sink” needs to be left at home, and you will need some form of incredible shrinking machine to get all your clothes in hand luggage. Maybe you should buy all of your clothes at your destination and throw them away before returning home!

Now, you judge. Inside out or outside in? Deliberate Customer Experiences need to be managed, but they must be beneficial to the customer.

I am sure you have seen airlines starting to get stricter on the amount of luggage that you’re allowed on board. What happens time and time again when a typical family sees long queues at the check-in counter is that everyone empties all of their heavy items out of their hand luggage as they get to the desk and either puts the items in their pockets or just holds them.

After the hand luggage has been weighed, all is OK, apart from one bag. So they take an item or two out of that bag and put it into another bag that has already been weighed. It is like a merry-go-round! When they have finished checking in (and have moved away from the check-in counter), they empty their pockets and put everything back in the bags! This is a classic “coping strategy,” in the way that customers find ways around obstacles and problems.

When you are filling out your holiday feedback form, read what is says. It tells you what that organization is interested in. A recent feedback form I saw said, “If you had any problems whilst in the resort, did the representative adequately resolve them? Yes or No.” Let’s assume your answer is no. At the bottom of the form, another sentence read, “Unfortunately we are unable to enter into any correspondence arising from this form.” In other words, they are not interested if the issue has not been resolved. They just want to find out if their representatives are doing their job correctly. The fact that it is still a problem is irrelevant to them! Outside in or inside out? You decide.

I hope you all have a great holiday and a great Customer Experience.

© 2004 Beyond Philosophy

Colin Shaw
Colin is an original pioneer of Customer Experience. LinkedIn has recognized Colin as one of the ‘World's Top 150 Business Influencers’ Colin is an official LinkedIn "Top Voice", with over 280,000 followers & 80,000 subscribed to his newsletter 'Why Customers Buy'. Colin's consulting company Beyond Philosophy, was recognized by the Financial Times as ‘one of the leading consultancies’. Colin is the co-host of the highly successful Intuitive Customer podcast, which is rated in the top 2% of podcasts.


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