Home > Uncategorized > Penny wise is very foolish

Penny wise is very foolish

About 15 years ago I was on a domestic flight in India, on Indian Airlines. Like many flights in those days it was delayed and no one knew why. Nor when it would depart.

Many irate customers were screaming at the counter staff who didn’t know, nor care about the flight status. There was no food offered, nothing and finally some 7 hours after it was scheduled we departed on an alternate flight.

Fast forward to last week.

A Kenya Airways flight to Amsterdam was diverted to Greece due to a technical problem. Image

A big issue no doubt on its own.

But hearing this rant from a passenger it appears the issues of not treating the consumer well continue to be rife.

No doubt, that there’s nothing the airline can really do as the flight’s had a technical problem. And until it is fixed the passengers are stranded.

But there’s a lot the airline can do to mitigate the hardship of passengers stuck in a foreign country.

Get them food, make them comfortable, if possible put them on a sight seeing trip of the new place, put those who have deadlines on another flight. Basically, treat them as humans.

For a few thousand dollars you’ve just converted a bunch of inconvenienced passengers to be your champions.

Yet the approach often by airlines, and other service providers, in such situations is extremely short sighted. We’ve all read about Life Time Value of the customers. So when there’s a chance to really protect it, I am surprised that such modest investments are often ignored.

In every marketer’s life there comes a time that you have an unhappy customer. Deal with it swiftly and positively and you’ve converted that bad moment of truth into a favorable one.

In some big hotel chains the customer facing staff are given a ‘cash limit’ to resolve a issue on the spot. eg if you order a dessert in a restaurant and you’re unhappy and you complain to the staff member. There are 2 approaches. One involves ‘let me talk to the manager’. The other is ‘I am sorry let me replace it for you right away’. The cash limit refers to the latter approach.  Not really sure what the first approach achieves, save irritation and aggravation.

Spend those pennies and gain pounds of customer satisfaction and loyalty is what I say!


  1. July 9, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    completely agree and the few pennies spent would be multiplied 10 times by the goodwill and stories shared – wish more would learn

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