I was sitting at the gate waiting to board a Delta flight from Logan International Airport in Boston to LaGuardia Airport in New York City last week when something unusual happened (at least in my experience).
The captain, our pilot, came out to the gate to introduce himself to all of us waiting to board the flight. He wanted us to know who was flying the plane and told us to expect a smooth trip until our descent to LaGuardia, when it might get really bumpy. He reminded us to keep our seat belts on.
I wasn’t sure what to make of this. Does he come out to the gate and introduce himself to passengers before every flight? Or was the flight going to be more bumpy and turbulent than usual, and he wanted us to be prepared?
I am not a fan of turbulence, so his announcement left me with conflicted feelings. On the one hand, I appreciated the communication. On the other hand, I became anxious about the flight.
Then it occurred to me that this form of interpersonal communication is so rare today that it took many of us by surprise. It was bizarre to see people raise their heads from their phones and actually make eye contact with him.
Throughout the flight, the captain communicated with us. He told us what to expect as far as flight time and weather conditions and he pointed out landmarks as we flew over New York City.
As we approached LaGuardia, we experienced a few minor bumps, but it wasn’t bad at all. I was prepared for the worst and was pleasantly surprised that it was fine. But I was glad I was prepared.
Once we landed and lined up in the aisle to deplane, the crew came on the intercom to tell us there was a problem with the jetway, which meant we couldn’t get off the plane. As we stood there waiting, those of us with connecting flights became more and more anxious the longer we waited.
Once again, the captain and crew communicated with us. They kept us informed about what was happening and when we might expect to get off the plane. Before long, we were moving and I made my connection.
I was really impressed with Delta and our captain and crew. Air travel comes with a lot of factors that are difficult if not impossible to control, including weather, mechanical problems and delays.
But the one thing that can be controlled is when and how you communicate with your customers. When you let them know what to expect and keep them informed as things change, you reduce their worry, anxiety and stress and that leads to an overall positive experience in spite of other factors that can and will go wrong.
Think about how to apply this to your business. Are you doing everything possible to keep your customers informed about what to expect when they do business with you? Are you providing updates, information and solutions when things don’t go as planned? Are you making your communication personal?
In every business, there are factors that are out of our control. But we can control how and when we communicate to our customers. Good communication is the key to providing your customers with a positive experience.
If you can make that experience personal, you will stand out from your competition and create customer loyalty for the duration of their trip with you.