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.
United CEO does not care about #customers happiness. Really?
Lately, I have been thinking about United Airlines. In the beginning I thought about them because someone asked whether it is possible to build a customer-centric culture in a company…
4 Career Tips to obtain a Customer Experience Role
In honor of the 4th of July, we are rounding up 4 career tips for CX professionals. Set aside some time during the break from work to take stock in your CX career and evaluate the steps you need to get to the next level.
How to Prepare for AI: Dispatches from CR Summit, Charleston
On the eve of the #CRSummit in Charleston, customer experience leaders from various industries held the first AI Committee meeting. AI is a challenging topic to cover because it has…
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….
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.
Leadership During the Pandemic: Guest Post by Rachel Dreyfus
This is a guest post by Rachel Dreyfus, President, Dreyfus Advisors, who researched leadership during the pandemic. How has Covid19 influenced leadership over the past three months? Research results show…
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…
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.
Customer Experience Design – Make the Customer Know Who You Are
Now that we have helped you become experts in the design of space and function and the design of feelings, it is time to turn our attention to aesthetics, and to connect customer experience…
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…
Employee Experience Strategy and Customer Experience Depend on Strategy
This week, Andy Newman wrote a great article in The New York Times about the life of a retail sales agent. He used the example of an Old Navy sales…
Culture Is King – The Power Of Employee Engagement
In 2017 we introduced our ROI series recognizing the challenges all customer experience professionals have to obtain funding for CX initiatives and to prove their positive returns. Our second ROI…
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…
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…
Customer Facing Experience: Communication and Hospitality
Today, we are talking about communication as part of the customer facing experience. This is one of the most misused and misinterpreted notions both in our professional lives and our…
How a Personal Interaction builds Customer Loyalty
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).
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…
Why You Need Culture Not Call Center Training for Customer-Centric CX
If the organization does not understand what customer experience is, you will not get the funding or organizational support you need to build customer-centric experiences.
How to Extend Your Travel Experience Value Proposition
Last December the Ladders published that discusses business travelers who extend travel beyond the timeline of the business trip. The article says, “[a]ccording to a new study by La Quinta by…
Customer Experience, Self Service, and the Gift of Time
Time is the most precious gift in life. If you think about it, time is the one thing we all want more of. As we get older and busier, time gets even more valuable to us.
Customer Experience Technology View of your Call Center
By 2022 the global cloud based contact center market is growing from USD 6.8Bn in 2017 to 20.93Bn in 2022. This makes for CAGR of 25.2%. If you do not…
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…
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…
Airport Experience: Are You Letting Down Your Precious 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…
Freelance Customer Experience Lessons for Freelancers
For small businesses and freelancers alike, it’s important to recognize that your business is as strong as the relationships you build with your customers. That’s just one of the key…
Liliana Petrova Talks Patient Experience in Healthcare Podcast
Recently, we recorded a podcast on patient experience in healthcare with Stacey Richter. And today, we are excited to share it with you. Patient Experience in Healthcare vs Passenger Experience…
3 Ways to Create a Better Employee Experience Strategy
Guest Post by Gabe Smith, CCXP for The Petrova Experience The relationship between employee experience strategy and customer experience has long been discussed. Without engaged employees, we’re told, it’s difficult…
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.
What is Telemedicine? Keeping Medicine at the Heart
Guest Post by Dr. Melynda Barnes for The Petrova Experience. In this post Dr. Barnes answers the question “what is telemedicine,” and reminds us to keep medicine at the heart…
CX Bold Moves: JetBlue Paperless And Deviceless Boarding
Editor’s Note: This post is part of a series of CX Bold Moves. Today, we highlight the award-winning JetBlue biometrics. See all the CX Bold Moves stories. JetBlue Biometrics –…
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….
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.
WeWork Does CX Right with a Wow Moment
Used at the right time and place along the customer’s journey, the Wow Moment is an excellent retention technique. When a brand creates personal, relevant experience at exactly the right time, it can build a lifelong, loyal customer relationship.
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.
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.
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…
Customer Experience Audit: FedEx Omnichannel Disaster
In our Strategy, Org Design & Culture series we cover customer-focused companies that are willing to adapt, take risks and discover new ways of staying relevant. Sometimes, we encounter brands…
What is the survey question that will prioritize your #CX roadmap?
As customer experience professionals, we need to factor in this disconnect when we design surveys. And when we react to survey results. Customers have an image of who they want to be. However, their behaviors do not always reflect that image.
The One CX Goal You Need to Set for 2019
For 2019, I urge you to make only one CX goal – bring about business success with your customer experience work. Don’t just do work in the general sense. Rather, set a CX goal that has a real impact on your customers and their experiences with your brand.
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…
Are You Ready to Go Exclusive with Jane, Your Digital Concierge?
In 2015 JetBlue introduced bag fees. Seven years after the competition. The media exploded. Many publications were negative. They blamed the airline for “selling out.” One headline read “A New…
Human Experience: Do You Really Know Your Customers?
Steve Jobs said: “Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need before they realize it themselves.” He did not just say that….
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…
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…