Those of you who are frequent flyers, will be able to repeat those pre flight announcements off by heart.
Part of these often recognise members of frequent flyer programmes en masse.
After several years of numerous trips to the US I earned a British Airways / One World Gold Card.
So the lounge access is nice, along with the odd upgrade, but in terms of CRM they operate a ‘Golden Hello’ policy.
The first time I experienced this I was amazed, the chief stewardess approached my seat and said ‘so nice to have you on board again Mr Thomas’ – this amazement was two fold, on the one hand I was recognised for my status, but secondly somewhat critical as I never flew BA – my status came from flying in other airlines. But a nice touch of examining the flight manifest and noting the frequent flyers.
The second time I saw this was on a flight to Tokyo, this time, the stewardess was wandering somewhat lost, studying a napkin in her hand and then looking for seat numbers, as she appeared in my row she double checked her napkin, my seat and repeated the phrase I had previously heard.
Now the two methods of execution of the same basic principle led to me the end consumer feeling two different ways. The slick method of the first, made me feel special, the second that I was a chore/ another task to do as part of a long flight.
And so to flight BA295 from London to Chicago yesterday. Sitting in the last row, I heard a member of crew state they had ‘done all the golden Hellos’ – alas not to me, I thought, but more I was disappointed that this policy actually had a name and in fact, that special feeling of when it first happened was made to feel better as it was so slick, yet my overall feeling of being ‘special’ was negated.
Now the flight as a whole was not great, a very unreliable entertainment system, turbulence and fairly average food. For a brief few moments I spoke to one member of crew, who was charming, funny, gave some insights into some issues with the AV system, the route in general and if course the ‘golden hello’ scheme.
This was great, real, personal and spontaneous. Some four hours later as we left the plane, he noticed me disembark, he made a point of referencing our chat with a little joke and a handshake.
Now, the golden hello programme is great, why? It helps the airline welcome those who consume their product, build loyalty, not technologically based, easy and low cost to implement.
Yet it depends on the staff that are implementing it. Staff must but in to what we are trying to do as venues, the reasons and results rather than seeing it as just another idea from management.
The selection of good quality, focused staff who understand the power of their interactions is the first, second and third most important ingredient in deploying a customer focused recognition programme. It’s important that we recognise our donors, subscribers and high value patrons, but all customers are special, staff can make them feel this, technology can’t.