Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
It’s so hard for airline executives to learn the art of customer happiness.
They’re so focused on cutting a corner here and squeezing another passenger in there that pleasing customers seems so blessedly superfluous.
Until, that is, they get bad press.
This is something United Airlines learned not so long ago, in the famous case of the passenger being dragged down the aisle, his bloodied face a symbol for the world to see.
It’s something that United is still learning, it seems.
After the dragging incident, the airline made big promises about discovering caring. And, at least on some flights, a change is noticeable.
But then United went and angered passengers all over again with something that seemed deeply petty.
In June, the airline removed a delicacy long associated with it — the stroopwafel.
This little waffley-cookie thing had brought an element of charm to United flights. People delighted in it in almost unseemly ways.
So removing it seemed like another nickel-and-dimey sort of action on the airline’s part. Which it very likely was.
Customers claimed they’d never forgive the airline.
It could be that United noticed a lack of forgiveness in the air.
It could that that morning flights would enjoy an especially chilly atmosphere. Because just a few days ago, United announced that the stroopwafel is making a turnaround.
No, there wasn’t an expression of contrition. The airline acted as if it was merely offering a generous, Twittered New Year’s gift.
Yet some passengers were so overwhelmed that they claimed they’d be switching airlines, just to sample this delicacy.
Why, Peter Usamanont claimed on Twitter:
Our family Fly Delta and they have Biscoff cookie. We will definitely fly UA next time just because you guys have stroopwafel…See you soon in 2019.
I can’t tell whether this might have been sarcasm. I rather hope it was, even as I fear it might not have been.
Still, this small — but, for some, life-affirming — announcement offers a perennial customer service truth.
It really is the little things that can make an enormous difference.
Sometimes, you won’t know what these little things are until you try them and they work.
But once they work, you’d better keep doing them, otherwise your customers will notice.
And rather loathe you for it.
I wonder how many people, before completing their ticket purchases, will try and find out whether theirs is a stroopwafel flight.
No, people aren’t often entirely sane, are they?