When the Midwest Cookie Met a Southwest Nut

This isn’t one of those 1940s-era how we met, married and lived happily ever after stories.

OK, maybe it’s not a story about marriage, but I am talking about long-term relationships. Specifically, about creating enduring relationships with customers.

I started thinking about this after boarding a flight to Louisville last week for a board meeting. As I settled into my seat for the Chicago leg of the trip, I tried to lose myself in a book. But a flight attendant began barking out emergency procedures over an extra squawky mic. Unable to concentrate, I closed the book—and my eyes along with it. Her safety message finally delivered, she concluded by telling us to look on some incomprehensible page in the flight magazine for the list of drinks the airline served and to be prepared. She was going to start beverage service as soon as she could since it was such a short flight.

Why on Earth do we need beverage service and a small snack on a one-hour flight? It’s just one more disruption, if you ask me. First, the flight attendants usually block the aisle as they’re providing this service, and then when you get your drink and snack, it’s really more a hassle than a treat. I’m pretty clumsy to begin with, so I can’t be trusted balancing an open cup of liquid, a snack that needs to be unwrapped and my book, highlighter and iPod in such a tiny, restricted space. So I usually just skip the dutifully offered munchy, tempting as it may be. (Believe me when I say there are passengers out there who should thank me for this!)

OK, call me a curmudgeon. For those of you who do enjoy the mid-flight bite, I’m really not advocating its demise. But do airlines really expect a warm cookie or a handful of shelled nuts to appease customers frustrated by higher ticket prices, baggage charges, fewer routes, constant delays, the undressing and re-dressing that’s now a standard of security, and the jostling that accompanies boarding a planeload of passengers whose carry-ons are too big for the overhead bins?

So, here’s the point: In what way might you be inconveniencing your customers? Is any part of your customer experience frustrating? And if it is, are you trying to mask that problem with some “token” instead of really trying to solve the problem?

I’m certainly not naïve enough to think that even exceptional customer service will buy “happily ever after” these days, but it certainly will extend the honeymoon.

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About Smart Companies Thinking Bigger®

Kelly Scanlon is the owner and publisher of Thinking Bigger Business Media. She recently finished a term on the national board of directors of the National Association of Women Business Owners, and was the national chair from 2010-2011. An advocate for small business owners, Kelly sits on numerous boards and committees to advocate on behalf of small business owners. She has won several awards for her advocacy. Among them are the 2011 United Nations NGO Positive Peace Award on behalf of Kansas City area small business owners, the U.S. Small Business Administration's Region VII Women's Business Champion of the Year in 2009, and the Women in Business Advocate of the Year from the State of Kansas in 2006. In 2002, she won the SBA's Region VII Small Business Journalist of the Year Award (Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas). Whatever your business stage—aspiring, startup, established, mature—Thinking Bigger Business Media has the resources you need to grow to the next level. We are a resource organization dedicated to providing the strategic, "how-to" information small business owners need to become more productive and more profitable. We also provide information that helps owners connect with resources within the business community that can help them grow. We deliver that information through a variety of media products and other channels easily accessible to business owners.
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