Oh, jezz, not another phreakin Air Canada puff piece by this AC groupie.. Don't hit the delete key just yet, I've got a start up observation for you at the end. Money back if you are not completely satisfied.
Two people, two stories, two outcomes.
My daughter, Rachel, up and coming marketing rock star that she is, had to make a change to an Air Canada flight she was on. The blog post starts off with:
"It would appear that somewhere along the way, a corporate mandate or some other thingamawhoie, maybe a memo, went around to the entire company that went something like this:
To Whom It May Concern:
Should any customer prefer to speak with a human being, it is your duty to be as cranky/misinformed/slow/unhelpful as possible - until they get the message that we’d rather have them use a kiosk or go to our website.
That is all.
Mr./Mrs. Person Incharge"
Ah, yeah, you get where this story is going. Click here to read the rest and come on back.
Okay. As you can see not a happy camper.
Switch to the old guy. Yeah, me. Two weeks ago, I flew into LA from Toronto on the last flight out and then took the red eye back. It was for a meeting with a super smart bunch of tech people and totally worth it. I have an Air Pass and it allows me to hit the web site and get an upgrade, free/no coupon, if there is a seat available. There was. Seat 2C on both flights. Same crew. Super nice. On the way back, even the pilot noticed that I'd been on a bunch (9, we figured it out) of his LA/Toronto runs.
Anyway, I bought one of those neck pillow in the airport. It was, I think, 30 dollars. Very cheap on all fronts, comfort and price. On the flight back, after using it, I wasn't pleased with it. I had forgotten my really good one so I really didn't care about this one. I left it in the seat, hoping that somebody would just take it.
Fast forward, two weeks. Wednesday of this week, I am on the last flight back to Toronto from LA. I get off the plane, use the CanPass system, and blow right on through.
As I'm coming through the doors into the main hall, there stands a smiling Air Canada lady with my pillow in a bag. A 30 dollar pillow. "You left this on the flight a couple of weeks ago," she said.
Of course, I'm thinking oh yeah, this airline rocks. Air Canada is my favorite airline, they are a smokin good deal with Air Passes and have amazing people who care.
Now, fully 99% of the people I speak to think I'm on serious mind altering drugs when I say something nice about Air Canada. The other 1% point out that I'm Super Elite, have a chunk of time/miles/money into AC, so duh, you don't get any of the attitude.
Lessons for your start up:
This post is NOT about Air Canada. Save that debate for others. It is about many different little points you should consider as you are building your business.
- Are you paying attention to who you think matters to your business? You can say, everybody is equal, we strive for it, etc, but every person out there has, at one time or another, received amazing service over somebody else because of price paid, section of the venue, etc. Rachel would fly on WestJet in a second if they flew in/out of LA. Could AC doing anything to make her loyal? Should they? Again, I offer the questions not my opinion as my opinion doesn't matter in running your business.
- Are you setting tone? The right tone? What struck me about the 'pillow lady' was her smile and her genuine, no problem, attitude. It was so easy to give me that pillow with, here you elitist, make 10x more money, drive nicer car, eat better cat food, than me attitude, but she didn't. It was genuine, here you go, thanks for your business. That attitude should be present for the $99 (or less) air fare. Just because I'm a Super Elite, that is not a license to dump on others. For your start up? Set the right tone with your folks. Encourage and embrace those that go the extra mile for customers. The Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) sends an acknowledgement when you file your taxes. The letter notice starts off with Thank You. I know, there are a billion smart ass remarks you want to say, but the point is tone/attitude.
- Are there lots of stories out there that mention your company? I'd probably be laughed at if I said the Air Canada pillow incident was a purple cow for me. I suspect that is a reach but my point is how many amazingly good stories are coming out of your team? David Sifry, (CEO, Technorati) many years ago, when I just fired up the blog, personally called me after I emailed in a random tech support question. Home email, cell phone, nobody blogger. He didn't know (or care) I was a VC or that I knew the toll booth lady on the GG bridge. He just dived in and answered the question. Purple Cow. How many stories about your business are being created this week? Today? An hour ago?
I understand Super Elite means I'm 'different' in the eyes of AC. I understand being "up front" has a different status in the minds of AC people. The time it took to look me up, catch me on another inbound flight (I'm queued up with 50 flights) was an effort. I get all that and recognize the odds of 22B getting the same treatment is effectively zero.
I get it.
The bigger question for you is what kind of company are you building? What kind of systems, processes, etc, are you putting in place so that everybody is Super Elite and everybody sees a purple cow.