Discordant notes

Earlier this week, after my youngest daughter’s college graduation, I had to fly back from Portland. Upon arriving at PDX, as an Executive Platinum member, I was able to check-in quickly and I practically glided through security. When I got to the gate I learned that I had scored a first class upgrade (#winning). Once I was on board, our assigned flight attendant turned out to be super attentive and extremely friendly. And unlike coach, not only did we get a meal, it was actually pretty decent.

After a nearly four hour flight, we landed and I headed to our designated baggage carousel–which many a road warrior will remember are unusually close to the arrival gates at DFW–to wait for my checked bag. And wait. And wait. And wait.

After about 40 minutes and zero communication from the airline several of us migrated a few hundred yards down the way to the baggage service desk. The on-duty clerk was clueless about the delay but she did get on her walkie-talkie to inquire about what was going on. That quickly revealed no useful information. I then tried tweeting to American Airlines to see if they could help. They responded rather quickly, suggesting I check with the baggage service desk at the airport. Gee, thanks. If only I had thought of that.

Anyway, finding my zen, I accepted the things I could not change and shuffled back to the gate. About ten minutes later (so about an hour after we landed) our bags finally emerged.

Now, to be clear, I am quite aware that this is very much a first world, highly privileged problem.

Nevertheless, the broader strategic points for those who are tasked with delivering a remarkable customer experience are four-fold:

  1. Good enough no longer is.
  2. More and more, our customers compare us to their last great customer experience, regardless of whether it happens to be in the same product or service category.
  3. A well harmonized experience is comprised of (minimally) meeting the table-stakes of a customer journey, amplifying the wows where possible and eliminating the discordant notes.
  4. If the discordant notes are annoying enough–and particularly if they are the very last thing the customer remembers about their journey–all the good we might have done is quickly forgotten.

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