My trip to St Louis was an adventure to say the least…although there was a lot more waiting involved than I would have expected from an adventure. The trip started out relatively mundanely. I showed up to the airport earlier than anticipated, was thankful to be in Zone-2 boarding versus Zone-3, and had a decent seat. We boarded the plane, and within five minutes we were informed that we had to de-board as there was something wrong with the door.
Planes need repairing frequently; this isn’t something that just affects Frontier. However, the key in these moments is how the company reacts and therefore differentiates themselves.
Be honest. When customers are unhappy, as an employee it’s easy to become anxious. When the adrenaline is flowing into the brain, it’s not uncommon to want to say whatever the customer wants to hear in order to avoid further conflict. Giving false hope ultimately makes the situation worse.
Keep people informed. Ambiguity increases anxiety in customers. While information isn’t always available, whatever information is available should be shared. Additionally, the company should be making every effort to get complete information to provide to the customers.
Empower people to bend the rules. One of the most frustrating moments during our wait was when, after 3 hours, another plane was headed to St Louis with over forty seats available, and Frontier would only allow people to change flights if they paid the change fee. Even worse, they broke rule Number One and said they thought they had found another flight, and that we would most likely be leaving in another thirty minutes. When a company severely disappoints their customers, employees should have the ability to make things right with the customers.
Be authentic. Drop the canned speeches. It was almost humorous when we finally began the flight nine hours later than the scheduled flight, and the flight attendants were reading from the script saying things like, “We thank you for choosing Frontier,” and “We hope you enjoy your flight.” At this point, the last thing anyone wanted to hear was those placating remarks.
While the nine hours between when we were supposed to depart and when we finally did was a disaster for even more reasons than listed in this post, the time in flight was actually pleasant. The crew was accommodating and brought beverages and free food throughout the entire trip. And there was the voucher as well to help ease the pain.
Things inevitably will go wrong, but the key to make it through on top is communication. While I will continue to remain a customer of Frontier, knowing these things happen, I know they lost a lot of customers that day. I think a few could have been salvaged had they followed these tips.
Jana Axline is president and leadership coach at Axline Solutions and author of Becoming You. Through her leadership musings she inspires audiences to grow as leaders and ultimately achieve who they were created to be. For more information visit Axline Solutions.