While not the first time United Airlines has asked flight attendants to step up efforts in recognizing frequent flyers, its latest reminder underscores United’s effort to transform its customer service model.
United Airlines Wants Flight Attendants To Provide More Customer Recognition
A detailed memo written by John Slater, Senior Vice President of Inflight Services, and shared with Live and Let’s Fly notes:
One area that has significant room for improvement is customer recognition. As consumers ourselves, we all appreciate feeling special or recognized for our loyalty. Our premier customers are no exception. Acknowledging our customers’ special occasions, milestones and MileagePlus status takes only a moment and keeps these customers loyal to United. It also sends a great message to the customers in close proximity that it pays to be in the club.
Speaking as a regular flyer on United, I’m not going to lie – I do enjoy being “acknowledged” when in the air. The other day I flew from Los Angeles to Denver and the flight attendant came up to me during boarding, thanked me for being 1K and offered me my choice of breakfast entrees. The lady sitting next to me and the couple across from me were not offered a choice (apparently the eggs are much more popular than the waffle). While I’d like everyone to get their choice (hello pre-ordering), I was happy to receive my choice.
Even more striking, when I visited the United Club in Denver the agent checking me warmly thanked me for my 1K status. As I nodded and headed up the escalator, she called out. “And thanks for being a MillionMiler too! We greatly appreciate you!”
I’ve long argued that little words of encouragement like this are exactly the correct approach. First, they cost United nothing and make passengers smile. Second, they do foster long-term loyalty. It may be schedules and pricing that first draws you in, but it is great service that makes you stay. And it is poor service which turns people away…
Incidentally, the memo lauds flight attendants for stepping up in the following three areas:
- Welcoming passengers at the boarding door
- Proactively assisting with passenger baggage and managing overhead compartment space
- Being visible and engaged throughout the flight
Feedback is based upon NPS scores, United’s new metric for tracking customer service.
It’s one thing to send memos and another thing to put those memos into practice. But memos are an important starting point in helping to gradually change the customer service paradigm.
Not surprisingly, customer satisfaction data shows the importance placed on customers being welcomed onboard and made to feel like a guest.
Maybe start by calling passengers guests rather rather than customers?
United’s on the right track and memos like this are having a practical effect on in-flight service. But giving flight attendants the tools to deliver not just smiles but a quality product will ultimately make the most difference.