Testing Moments of Truth at Delta


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Testing Moments of Truth at Delta

A potential moment of truth, according to Jan Carlzon, occurs when an employee interacts with a customer.

• If the experience is very positive, it becomes a Magic Moment.
• If the experience is very negative, it becomes a Miserable Moment.
• If the experience is neutral, it becomes a Mwa Moment (in Dutch,–my guest language– Mwa is the equivalent of ho-hum.)

I had a wonderful opportunity to assess the moments of truth at Delta Airlines during a recent trip from Amsterdam to Bogotá Colombia via San Jose California. Because of a stroke condition, I had asked for wheelchair assistance throughout the journey. What a beautiful moment for patient bonding, I thought. Here is my report.

Amsterdam to Atlanta – Mary (Names of staff fictionalized

I was warmly greeted at the Delta checkin desk and was informed that a wheel chair would arrive in about 45 minutes (just 15 minutes before departure time. Or I cold skip the wheelchair and walk to the gate with Mary, an aging flight/ground attendant. I close Mary, fearing a late arrival at the gate although I wasn’t aware how far away it was. It seemed about a mile via various gangways, during which Mary and I exchanged friendly noises about America vs. Holland. I finally arrived at the gate—a bit exhausted.
Score on scale of 10: 4 No wheelchair.

Atlanta to San Jose – Belinda

We landed smoothly after a non-eventful flight. I was met at the gate be Belinda, a 25-ish African American lady of about 25. We whipped through passport control and customs going to the gate via McDonalds for a snack. I had about a two-hour wait, so I bid Belinda adieu. But about one four before departure the loudspeaker announced a gate change. It meant another trudge of about a half mile.

Score on scale of 10: (comment: 6. Service was OK, but gate change trek was unappreciated.)

San Jose-Atlanta – Marcus

Marcus was an efficient guy of about 30. We avoided the checkin hassle deftly going through security and boarding in a whiz. Uneventful.

Score on scale of 10: 7. (comment: OK but uneventful. (Mwa)

Atlanta-Bogotá. – Bob

Bob, about 50, was a chatty fellow indeed. We walked the mile or so to the gate—but just as we arrived he parked me on a set of chairs in the gangway and told
me to wait for a minute. I thought he was going to retrieve my cane which I had left in an X-ray security station. A half hour passed by but no Bob appeared. Finally he showed up pushing another passenger. I did not mind sharing Bob, but I got anxious waiting for him in ignorance. I felt alone and abandoned

Score on scale of 10: 6. (comment: The waylaid Bob affair was disturbing)

Bogotá-Atlanta- Pablo

Pablo taught me the real value of wheelchair assist. He avoided the hassle of a crowded check-in with long lines, rescuing my baggage which was about to board for Asuncion, Paraguay or somewhere. We took –ff on time and with ease.

Score on scale of 10: (comment: 9 Bravo Pablo!)

Atlanta-Amsterdam – Niek

I was guided through passport control and customs to the Meeting Point and my waiting cab by Niek, who advised me that his territory ended at the Meeting Point where Jan took over and wheeled me outside to the waiting cab.

Score on scale of 10: 7 (comment: Team switching was confusing.)

Overall Score on scale of 10: 6 minus.

Escorting a wheelchair passenger is not a glamorous job—but what a perfect time to create a Magical Moment! Think about a pre-printed card with the words and photograph “You are being escorted by Bob courtesy of Delta Airlines”. This would be especially useful because the chore is often outsourced to third party service companies. You can even add an email address in the card eliciting feedback. suggestions and NPS scores from passengers.

Jay Curry, Senior Consultant

Jay Curry
Customer Experience Factory
Jay Curry is a founder of The Customer Experience Factory. His book, the Customer Marketing Method, was one of the first to show how to evaluate and realize customer profitability. Curry's current focus is on how Customer Experience Management applies to healthcare and non-profit organizations.


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