Think Like a Customer
Most of us are way too young to remember that there was a day when the person who received a letter paid for the postage. Or that the person receiving a cell phone call paid for the minutes, as well as the person placing the call.
Game changing business models coupled with customer centricity have been a hallmark of my consulting practice over the past 20 years. There is still much work to be done and it begins with thinking like the customer.
This fall, my daughter went to Poland for her first year of college at the University of Warsaw. In late August she had to go to Washington to get her student visa. The Polish Embassy requires that you appear in person, even though this could easily be done by sending the application electronically and sending the passport by courier.
When I printed out my daughter’s boarding pass for her flight to DC, I didn’t realize that their boarding pass now has the arrival time information and not just the departure information.
For many years, you would get on a plane and have to ask the person next to you “do you know when we get in?” I know you remember those days. I can’t tell you when the change occurred, as in the past few years I have [thankfully] travelled less and less, so pardon me for just realizing it.
It makes total sense to eliminate those steps that we put our customers through that are unnecessary.
It is important to note that technology wasn’t the barrier in the boarding pass example. The Passenger Name Record (PNR) has always had the departure and arrival times in it. So there was no reason why the boarding pass didn’t always have this info, other than the fact that it was after all a “boarding pass”. They figured that you didn’t need help getting off the plane (which they still insist on calling disembarking).
But one day, someone somewhere at AA, decided to think like a customer and ask what questions that they were having to ask that they could take care of by being proactive. If you are an airline employee reading this, I hope you are checking your own boarding pass to see if you have made that simple, customer-centric shift.
Actually, knowing my audience as I do, I’m quite sure that I will get a comment from a proud airline employee that will tell me (sweetly of course) that someone else besides AA was the first.
If you are in another business, think about what your customers still have to figure out manually in order to do business with you.
Next week we are beginning a series that I call Einstein Life Hacks. We’ll be talking about basic stuff, like this. You will have small changes that you can make each day to tweak your business.
Make sure that you work every day ON your business and not just IN your business.