Seeing the Customer Clearly Through All Channels
Today’s post was inspired by a series of interactions I had with VirginAmerica this week . Two lessons to be learned….
In one week, the family is headed to Southern California for a vacation. Although not as convenient and more expensive than flying out of Richmond, we decided (after standing up to considerable pressure from our daughter) to fly VirginAmerica from DC. Don’t tell her, but I’m looking forward to the experience.
Like all airlines, VirginAmerica has a rewards program. Theirs is called Elevate. Prior to purchasing our tickets in January, I joined the Elevate program. This past week, I received the following email from VirginAmerica:
You joined Elevate but have not flown us. That just won’t do. We want you to come and see what you’ve been missing, so here’s a special offer just for you – 30% off our lowest advertised fare on your flight with.
Now I love a good deal and this clearly is one, but there’s a big problem here. You see, I already bought tickets to fly with them, and I might add, didn’t get the 30% discount, so why doesn’t their Marketing department know that??? Companies that deliver a truly exceptional customer experience, do so consistently at every touchpoint. My expectations for VirginAmerica have been set high based on feedback from other customers and their advertising. That e-mail sent the message that they aren’t aware I’ve already booked flights. That is not what I would expect from a company focused on a great customer experience.
Lesson #1: Take advantage of the rich customer information you have at every touchpoint. Don’t send a solicitation that says “Hey, when are you going to buy my stuff” if I already have!
Twitter to the Rescue
Many companies have established a presence on Facebook and Twitter, but the ones that approach those communities as listeners and facilitators are the ones demonstrating that they get it. VirginAmerica (@VirginAmerica on Twitter) is one who gets it. This morning, I mentioned my frustration about the email experience in at “tweet” to Nick Schwartz, the guy behind the VirginAmerica Twitter presence. The response was almost immediate. He gave me his email address and asked me to send a note telling my story (in more than 140 characters), which I did. To be clear, I was not asking for nor did I have any expectations that my email would result in a fare reduction or other adjustment. I simply wanted to communicate an opportunity to inprove the customer experience. Nick passed my email up the chain and within an hour I got a reply from VirginAmerica Guest Care indicating they had forwarded my concerns to the marketing department.
I love the immediacy of being able to tap a company on the shoulder and start a conversation with out having to go to their place (i.e. website, 800#).