July 1, 2009 by Yuval Brisker
Here the moment you have all been waiting for…:
Did you guess?
Continental is the airline I fly most, being that they are the hub airline in two of the places that I live – New York (at Newark) and Cleveland. And maybe familiarity breeds contempt… but what can I say?…I have come to call that airline between you and me…
Yes. The Borg. Efficient, mechanical but soulless. Especially the customer service and the attitude of Continental’s onboard staff. I know this is a terrible indictment, and probably a superficial generalization but believe me, this is not an anecdotal observation. In flight after flight after flight, I have seen a consistent deterioration of the quality of what they serve (coach is my measure — not business or BusinessFirst) and how they serve it.
For example, they used to carry a great Asian Vegetarian meal, that I ordered even when I wasn’t. Two months ago, I ordered one, and they rudely told me that not only was it gone… but they never had one!!!! And despite my protestations, a flight attendant told me that I didn’t know what I was talking about. So now they replaced that great vegetarian meal with a shameful veggie burger in box, not only reducing the meal size and type but also ridding it of any amenities that their meal on the tray used to have (desert, salad, as weak as they were, they were there…). So those ordering vegetarian are left with a box for dinner while everyone else has a tray, reduced to second class citizens.
Second big issue is what I would call: “The SMILE”…
Or lack of it.
How hard is it to tell your staff to be sunny and nice and SMILE. Make it a rule. Southwest did. And what a difference it is to get on a Southwest plane. You KNOW people are going to be nice to you. You KNOW that’s part of that company’s culture.
Contrast that with the cold, robotic attitude and frowning faces I see on almost every Continental flight, as the attendants unhappily unload the meals with disdain on to passenger’s tables – with not even a minimal attempt to be nice. It seems people are just not happy to work there…
And so… Lufthansa wins The Golden Chicken – my Best Customer Experience of the Week Award , this week. Why?
Because to paraphrase an old musical I love…the planes were beautiful, the people were beautiful, the service was beautiful… Really!
And I thought this German animal was cold! WRONG!
The attendants went out of their way to be gently smiling and thoughtful. They remembered every request, went out of their way to do something extra and the atmosphere was just perfect. German engineering done right.
For example, I ordered an Asian Vegetarian….yes Lufthansa still carries it!!! And they came and asked me if I did in fact order it. Just making sure that I knew it was on its way. Then when I saw that it didn’t have a salad, I asked for one and the attendant didn’t frown or forget…she said “I will bring you a whole extra tray with a salad and desert” and she said it with The SMILE.
How much did that cost Lufthansa? The proper meal not that much, the extra tray, not that much, the SMILE -nothing. The result-I will certainly look to spend my next $1000 expenditure on a flight to Europe and beyond here, not with The Borg,
And all it took was a smile.