Aviation Industry, Coronavirus Isn’t the Only Thing Killing Us
Eighteen years ago, September 11th caused a three-day halt of the US commercial airlines and resulted in a 31.6% reduction in travel in September 2001 compared to the previous year. Think about it. Three days.
On March 11th this year, President Trump issued a 30 day travel ban to Europe, effectively grounding the aviation industry’s international flights. Now think about that. Thirty days!
The last time planes were grounded (for three days) it took six years for the industry to achieve profitability. On June 8th, 2017 Business Insider published the article “Airline stocks have finally recovered all their losses since September 11, 2001” You do the math for how bad it could be this time around, unless the airline industry gets help. Yet, our newsfeeds are full of articles and opinion pieces that express animosity, lack of support, and, in some cases, hatred towards airlines. The titles of some of these articles alone are heartbreaking.
Let’s look at the reality, though. Real people make up the airline industry. And, at every level, from baggage handlers to CEOs, they commit to customers every day, in an industry that operates with tight margins and unique complexities.
Laser Thin Margin
One of the things I love most about having The Petrova Experience is that, now, I get to solve business problems across industries. One day, I talk about specialty food grocery. The next day, about healthcare innovation technology, luxury retail, and furniture rentals.
When I was in JetBlue, I understood that the aviation industry has low margins. However, what I did not know, was just how big the gap is between the aviation industry and the rest of the S&P 500. In the airline business, getting to 25% margin is a great success. Just in the past week, I learned that a grocery store can reach as high as 50% margins on fresh produce, while luxury retail can see up to 400%.
So, what does margin mean in times like this? It means that there is not much cash on the balance sheet to help get through tough times. It also means you are constantly under pressure. And every penny counts. Tight margins mean that, if an airline waives all the change fees, it may not survive this month.
Last but not least, margins like this mean that, when you are charging a lot of money around Christmas or New Year, it is not because you are gouging the market. Rather, it is because you are getting a break to collect some cash so when the kids are back to school and your flights are empty, you can continue to fly. And to serve the public.
Service In Spite of Struggle
“Don’t Give the Airlines What They Want.” That is the title of a VICE article a friend sent me this week. It broke my heart. I have never seen any more hospitable and dedicated industry than the aviation industry. We are aviators, we are zealots, we are public servants. We are always working.
You can find aviators in the field on holidays, during severe weather events, and in risky times. We bravely face terrorist attacks, solve complex, almost unsolvable operational problems, and love our passengers with all our hearts. Yet, this month it feels like aviators are the most hated people in the world.
I do not remember seeing many article titles like this in 2008 during the financial crisis. So, why is this happening? In part, it could be because the aviation industry is one of the most customer-facing industries. Airport employees are passengers’ temporary hosts. Similarly, when you are in the air, flight attendants welcome you into their home. They serve you with care and with passion. The thing about visibility is that it goes both ways. When you are vulnerable, you are bound to show your ugly side more often, too. The complexity of aviation drives more “uncontrollables” than most other industries. In return, this can drive more bad experiences for customers, however unavoidable those experiences may be.
But. let’s take a closer look at the inside of the aviation industry to understand why some of the prevailing winds of anger are so at odds with the reality lived by the individuals who work in the industry. And why an industry dedicated to service is taking a turn at needing some support.
“You will Never Get Rich Working for the Aviation Industry”
One of the first things I was told at my JetBlue interview in 2011 was that I will never make the money I could in banking, the industry I was coming from. Aviators have “the bug,” they said. They work for the people, not for the money.
The husband of a friend of mine manages one of the NY airports. He wakes up in the middle of the night to go to the operation. He picks up the phone at all hours. And he loves every minute of it. Is he doing this for the money? No. He is doing it for the mission to serve the public. This man is a public servant. In my book ,that is the essence of service.
The interviewer turned out to be right. I served my time, 7 and-a-half years, to be exact. And during that time, I did not exactly get rich. I remember going to my MBA reunions listening to classmates’ career trajectories. They were easily earning double what I was making. But I was twice as happy as they were. I loved the service.
People do not talk about this. Once, I even got in trouble for saying it to a college group visiting our offices. But today, it feels more than appropriate to share. Remember that person that made you happy. The one that really took care of you on your trip. Remember the bag handlers that unloaded your bags from an airplane in the middle of a storm, or the airport employee working hard to make more airlines fly to your city so you can get to see more places in the world. These are the people who are asking for help today.
So, hopefully, the next time someone says in your presence that the aviation industry does not deserve our support, you will defend your travel hosts and express your gratitude for having the ability to go everywhere you would like in the world. Because you know that, even while we are grounded, we are all planning for a brighter, more accessible future. We never stop serving our customers And we never stop striving for their happiness.
How to Be an Entrepreneur: 5 Things I Learned in 5 Months as an Entrepreneur
The life of an entrepreneur is different every day, but the one thing that remains the same is that we are always learning. These are my lessons in how to…
Customer Experience Audit: Cadillac Scores Millennial Customers with Future-Forward Thinking
Editor’s Note: This post is part of a Customer Experience Audit series. See all the audit stories. The automotive industry is right next to the airline industry in terms of…
Paperless Customer Journey – JetBlue Deviceless Boarding
JetBlue Biometrics – Innovation and Disruption This year, JetBlue entered the ranks of the innovators who disrupt industries by applying customer experience technology. They not only imagine the future. They…
Poor Integration is Bad for Customer Journey and Worse for Brands
Although we all have bad customer experiences, there is still a big debate about “the CX field” and whether it will survive the test of time. There is no doubt…
Customer Experience Audit: New York Times Beats Google
Editor’s Note: This post is part of a series of Customer Experience Audits. In this series we walk you through customer experience examples across industries. We feature brands that made…
Aviation Industry, Coronavirus Isn’t the Only Thing Killing Us
Eighteen years ago, September 11th caused a three-day halt of the US commercial airlines and resulted in a 31.6% reduction in travel in September 2001 compared to the previous year….
Customer Experience Audit: Mobile Provider Eliminates Remote Workforce
How to balance the efficiency call center metric FCR (first call resolution) with wait and talk time? JetBlue promotes human interactions as a brand promise.
Digital Customer Experience Strategy – Top Three Mistakes
How many of you have interacted with financial and insurance institutions who seem to have forgotten the invention of the world wide web and applications design? In 2021, Major players…
What is Human-Centered Design and how to Leverage it in 2021?
At its core, design is about value creation. In the world of Customer Experience, value-driven design requires CX professionals to use empathy to imagine a future customer experience that is…
End to End Customer Experience – How to Get it Right
When we think of travel, we often think of the flight experience. But the end to end customer experience is complex, and includes all modes of transportation that get you…
Healthcare Whitepaper: Impact of Patient ‘I Wants’ in Healthcare
Rachel Dreyfus joins The Petrova Experience with a guest blog about patient experience. Background A culture of positive patient experience is increasingly important in Healthcare, affecting patient outcomes and satisfaction….
Customer Experience Plan is More Important than Ever
Last week we published eight Customer Experience Trends to look out for in 2021. Today we are diving deeper into the first one: Customer Experience is more important than ever…
Customer Experience Audit: Starbucks Bets On The Physical Experience
Starbucks is opting in for the physical experience in order to become a lifestyle brand while other brands are investing in omni-channel experience.
A Customer Experience Strategy will Define Your Success in 2021
While there may not be a magic pill to guarantee the perfect customer experience, there is one thing that every organization needs to transform into a customer-centric business. And that…
What is Customer Experience? What are the Faces of CX?
Each area of CX represents a path for CX professionals to impact business health and build successful careers. One of my favorite CX analogies is that it is like the blood in our bodies. When CX is done well, it touches every aspect of an organization. That’s what makes customer experience so much fun! You will never be bored working in CX.
How to talk to your CFO about customer experience and revenue growth
Last month we introduced the topic of Customer Experience ROI and the complexity of building a good business case for it. The Customer Experience business case is strong, but not easy to prove. Today we will focus on two big wins of a successful customer experience investment – revenue and customer growth of your business.
Culture Starts at the Top
Without a leader who believes that today’s business success is about acquiring and retaining customers, you cannot even begin the process of building a culture. Leaders who are passionate about the customer are also passionate about creating culture and employee engagement.
Get Customer Experience Basics Right and You Don’t Need to Invest in Wow Moments
Wow Moments are a Customer Experience hot topic. Customer experience professionals ideate how to build, prioritize, finance, and measure these Wow Moments. Chip and Dan Heath wrote a whole book on the topic: The Power of Moments. No Wow Moment saves you from negative word of mouth if your brand fails to get the customer experience basics right or to deliver the expected brand experience consistently.
Holiday Wishes for Great CX: Career Advice Edition
Every successful customer experience initiative starts with a skilled CX team. Brush up on your CX skills to strengthen the business case for CX; to develop relationships within your organization; and to deliver standout customer experiences in the new year.
Coronavirus Travel: What Does Hospitality Mean Now?
I want to tell you about my recent passenger experience. Earlier this week, I traveled to New Orleans from JFK Terminal 5 in New York. I had planned an airport…
From Pain Points to Magical Moments: Transform the Customer Experience
Argyle Journal interviewed Liliana Petrova about emerging self service technology and meeting and exceeding customer expectations in airports. One such way, as Liliana explains, is to create magical customer experience…
Lessons Learned at the Forrester Conference: “Data is the New Sexy”
Once a year I look for an event to attend where I can learn something new and get better at what I do. This year, I attended an event hosted…
Customer Experience Tips and Best Practices In 2017?
This is Post 2 of Liliana Petrova’s series on customer experience. She shares customer experience tips, lessons learned, and best practices for the new year. And dives into organizational culture…
How To Define Your Purpose And Have Unique Culture
If you Google the word “purpose” you get the definition “the reason for which something exists.” This is a challenge if you think about it in the context of organizational…
How a Personal Interaction builds Repeat Customers
A customer-centric methodology is key to the successful outcome of my interaction with Hello Spud. It is the reason this story appears here, and not among the CX Big Fails! The company did not send an automated response. It did not deliver a message stating “sorry we couldn’t help you, would you like something else.” Instead, the company co-founder reached out to me personally across multiple channels (a handwritten note, followed by personal emails).
Customer Experience Audit: Domino’s Making the Right CX Choices
Editor’s Note: This post is part of a series of Customer Experience Audit – as series of articles featuring examples of good customer experience and bad customer experience in practice….
Hospitality Experience and Why We lack Seamless Travel Experiences
Hospitality is taken for granted across government agencies, airlines and hotels. In my line of work, I often hear “I want to have the JetBlue customer experience.” Although many claim…
Airport Experience – Are You Letting Down Your Precious 2021 Travelers?
A month and a half ago, as part of our ongoing conversation about airport experience, we introduced the concept of revenge travel. We pleaded with the public to trust us…
CX Skills Builders: You May Have a CX Job and Not Know It
Last week we talked about the identity crisis of CX professionals and we urged you to fix any small problem or seam on the customer journey in order to build internal brand equity and buy in.
Employee Engagement and Wellness In The Workplace: Guest Post
Today, The Petrova Experience brings you a guest article about employee engagement and organizational culture. This piece is by Natalie DeVito, of Commonwealth Joe. Commonwealth Joe is an innovative company,…
Do You Know Why The Iconic Brand Toys ‘R’ Us Closed Doors Despite All Our Memories? #RetailBlues
The year is 2016. You are the CEO of Toys ‘R’ Us. Your brand still controls 13.6% of the toy market although the company is highly leveraged, a strategy of…
3 Challenges of Hybrid Working and How to Overcome Them
According to a Gallup study, 53% of Americans expect to work in a hybrid arrangement in 2022 and beyond. This number is significant enough for corporate America to get hybrid…
Even the US Government is Jumping on the Customer Experience Train
As we get ready for 2021, we have been diving in to the top customer experience trends we see on the horizon. So far, we have looked at why customer…
2021 Customer Loyalty Strategy – Relationships over Transactions
According to the Salesforce Connected Customer Report, 90% of consumers expect companies to clearly demonstrate their values and 66% expect brands to demonstrate empathy. In other words, when thinking about…
Why you need a defined culture for customer experience?
When designed and built correctly, customer experience expresses an organization’s brand. Your brand and marketing promises serve as a guiding light to your experience team. Similarly, organizational culture serves as a goalpost for the service side of customer experience.
Why CX Design Needs to be in Your Transportation Project RFP
Ever heard this line while working on an RFP? “I know your value, but I don’t know where to put you.” We hear it all the time. Why? Because, historically,…
The Great Re-onboading: How to Bring Back Your Employees
Re-onboarding is the next employee experience organizations need to tackle. Since March 2020, leaders have encountered pandemic shutdowns, remote workforce transitions, and the Great Resignation. As restrictions lift and we…
Liliana Petrova Talks Patient Experience in Healthcare Podcast
Recently, we recorded a podcast on patient experience in healthcare with Stacey Richter. Today, we are excited to share it with you. On the episode, we discuss travel and healthcare…
Why Customer Retention is the True Measure of SaaS Success
Guest Post by Callie Reynolds for The Petrova Experience In SaaS (Software as a Service), like in most businesses, sales is king. Sales gets the glory, and while I’d like…
Would You Pitch In To Save Toys “R” Us For Your Children To Experience? #ToysRUsGoFundMe
Last week we laid out the big moves that the leadership of Toys ‘R’ Us failed to take to evolve with customer needs and thus joins other brands as examples of…
Organizational Culture and Access to Information
By and large, people perceive culture as an HR discipline. The most common perception is that culture covers the soft side of performance. Culture is about how you do things, not so much about what you do. This approach to culture could not be more wrong. In fact, organizational culture is about so much more than a few words in a performance review sheet. It is about leaders expressing values, and the action guidance their cultural behaviors provide.
Let’s Get You Certified as a Customer Experience Professional!
Like all mature professions, customer experience has a certification that is internationally recognized. Adding it to your resume will signal to the business community that you are serious about customer experience and your aspiration to be part of its leadership ranks…
Customer Experience Trends – 8 Actionable Tactics in 2021
As we begin Q4 of an eventful 2020, it’s time to look out for the 2021 customer experience trends and tactics for creating exceptional experiences in increasingly complex environments. We…