Suck Less, One Touchpoint At A Time


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What if you could undertake a single initiative–fix just one touchpoint that’s not working as well as it should–and save your customers nearly 4,000 weeks of time a year? Delta Airlines may have recently pulled that one off. Its boarding pass–like others, long a source of confusion to passengers–got a much-needed makeover earlier this year.

Travelers continually look to their boarding passes as they navigate airports, guiding them from flight to flight and gate to gate as they move around the globe in ever-increasing numbers. Squinting in an attempt to decipher and decode a confusing array of barcodes, phrases, random strings of letters, they search for the information most important to them: “What’s my flight number?” “Where’s my gate?” “Where do I sit?” “What time do I leave?”

Delta Boarding Pass Image resized 600By looking at the boarding pass through the eyes of its 160 million customers, Delta has made dramatic changes that actually simplify their lives. Even if this redesign shaves off only 15 seconds of the average passenger’s time, this translates to 27,778 days, or 3,968 weeks per year. In other words, a lifetime–76 years saved. Every year.

How Many ‘Boarding Pass’ Opportunities Exist In Your Business?
I’ll wager you have many. Working with corporations on customer-experience improvement for more than a decade, we’ve always found opportunities for improvement. And you can, too.

While delivering truly differentiated customer experience is a good long-term goal, sometimes it’s best to just get started. Put another way, you can make your experience suck less, one touchpoint at a time. And don’t be surprised by what else you find along the way: opportunities to simplify systems, close gaps, and save time for you and your customers, reallocate resources, and more. Even at the touchpoint level, some opportunities will be monumental.

Whether you’re angling for competitive advantage, increased share of wallet, or greater loyalty, making your customers lives easier is never a bad idea. Overwhelmed by the increasing volume of choice and information they’re continually exposed to, smart customers have little patience for companies that make their lives more complex.

So How Can You Make Your Customers’ Lives Easier And More Enjoyable?
It may be as simple an idea as improving an existing touchpoint. Even the lowly boarding pass is now more useful, sensible, and smart, making airline travelers’ lives a little bit better on more than 5,000 flights a day.

Or maybe you can remove a touchpoint that annoys your customers. For example, one of our clients consolidated three touchpoints into one, saving more than $500,000 a year, boosting customer satisfaction, and improving customer experience in the process.

You can also improve customer service by creating a touchpoint that didn’t previously exist. Leveraging the power of social influence, Delta was the first airline to enable consumers to book tickets directly from its Facebook page’s “Ticket Window.”

Remember, the problems you’re trying to solve are rarely your own; they are those of a particular customer. And in order to come up with solutions that meet their needs, you need to understand who your customers are, what they want, and what’s important to them.

All this, starting from a simple question: “How can we make our customers lives a little easier?” Looking through your customers’ eyes, the answers begin to appear.

Republished with author's permission from original post.


  1. Great thoughts, Michael. It’s amazing that even large companies can forget to look at things from the customer’s perspective. How many times have you looked at a boarding pass and thought, “They really should make this thing easier to read?” I know I’ve done that before. Customers pay the bills and the salaries of everyone working at our company – why not think about things from their perspective first?

    The customer service environment is changing – today's customers are more informed and more demanding. Customer service is no longer an afterthought – it's a competitive tool that's intimately connected with marketing and sales teams. Customers are forward thinking – they take service into account when making big purchases, and they will choose the product backed up by better service when they can. Little things like making a readable boarding pass go a long way in the eyes of a customer.

    Businesses need to invest the time, energy and effort required to bring in the right people and the right organizational tools to get the customer experience right. Creating a great experience can turn your customers into salespeople.

    Thanks for the great read.

    John-Paul Narowski, Founder – karmaCRM

  2. Enjoyed your article. My recent flights on Delta confirmed what you have noted. Someone in the company is truly focusing on the customer experience. The boarding pass, the post flight surveys, the food service…it all shows signs of engineering behind the scenes to improve the customer experience. Here’s hoping that the customers notice and airline travel will once again be a pleasant experience!


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