This article takes a look at setting standards for customer satisfaction from slightly different angle: whether (in some situations) aiming for high ratings is just wishful (and wasteful) thinking.
We sometimes wonder if some industries are just doomed when it comes to customer satisfaction.
The one that keeps coming to mind is the airline industry.
Not that there aren’t players that have high customer satisfaction rates — but they almost always are niche or newer airlines — never the biggest ones that have big fleets and bigger problems. This is particularly true in the US — where all the major airlines (as opposed to domestic niche players) seem to be boxed in when it comes to trying to achieve customer satisfaction.
Key Factors Hindering CSat
- Airlines aren’t buses — but a lot of us seem to think that flights should be priced like bus rides. There was a time when air travel was a luxury or near it — where people had to pay a premium to travel — and airlines could ensure strong margins without trickery.
- Capital intensive industries tend to be heavily financed upfront — so the new players will keep cropping up and create excess pricing pressure without being accountable for profitability for the first couple of years.
- Staffing in airlines represents a real paradox — flight attendants are for the most part concierges and waiters — high respectable professions but not ones which demand elite salaries. But at the same time, they have to be trained and able to handle inflight crises including illness, security issues and mechanical problems. So the particular skills they have contribute very little to economic bottom line of the airlines they work for, but are nonetheless critical.
What Are The Options?
In this type of environment, airlines have very little wiggle room in the fight to create value perception and margins from conventional business practices. Instead, they are forced into a corner — and have to pursue predatory tactics like baggage charges, change fees and overbooking to gain margin help that passengers are unwilling to pay when they are aware of it.
With that in mind, airlines have to create pricing power in a imbalanced economic environment — and that inevitably leads to the decay of customer satisfaction — how can you be on good terms with your customers when you’re constantly tricking them into paying you more?