Posted: 25 Mar 2010 01:00 PM PDT
Over the past few years I have been traveling on airplanes a lot. So much that I started to pay attention to the flight attendants because although they are taken for granted, they are actually pretty smart.
Here is what you can learn about business from them:
Customer service is importantWhen you first hop on a plane, you'll notice that you are usually greeted. And when you are about to take your seat and put away your luggage, the flight attendant is there to help you if you need it.
In addition to that, once the plane takes off, they give you beverages and light snacks to keep you happy.
And if that's not enough, you can request almost anything from them without even leaving your seat. All you have to do is push the "call" button and the flight attendant will come to you and ask you how they may be of assistance.
So what's their purpose of doing this? Well if you are happy you are most likely to keep on flying on that airline, right? Happy customers means repeat customers, which means more money for the airline company.
Customers aren't that smartBefore the plane leaves the ground, what's one thing that the flight attendant does? She gives you step by step instructions on what you need to do before the plane can take off.
For example she walks you through buckling your seat belt and how to put on an oxygen mask in case the cabin pressure decreases. And just in case things get really bad, she even shows you how to put on and use a flotation device.
Now although you probably already know everything the flight attendant is telling you, you can't assume that everyone else does. With your business you need good instructions and documentation in case users are confused. This is a good way to make sure your customers are getting the most out of your product or service.
Options aren't always goodWith the beverage service the flight attendant usually tells you what drinks are available. And although there are multiple options for you, typically they limit the number of them. For example if you are interested in drinking juice, your options are orange or apple.
Here are the reasons flight attendant don't give you hundreds of options:
Sometimes you have to be strictIf you are a geek like me, you love to check your emails on your cell phone right before the plane takes off and you probably even try to text message while you are in the air.
And to top it off, you probably don't want to wait until the plane reaches 10,000 feet before you can pull out your laptop.
If you try breaking any of these rules, the flight attendant comes over and tells you nicely that you can't do it. And if you still don't listen, they usually come back and tell you again in a stricter voice. At this point you'll probably end up listening to them because you're afraid of what's going to happen if you don't.
With your business you can't always let customers walk on you. Although you want to keep them happy, you need to understand that customers aren't always right. And if you let one walk on you, there is nothing stopping the rest from doing the same thing.
The best up sell, don't seem like an up sellI fly on a lot of airlines, but the one that seems to be best when it comes to up selling customers is Alaska Airlines. Here are some of the things that the flight attendant up sells you on when you don't realize it.
It's the small things that keep people happyThe best flight attendant I have ever met was on a JetBlue flight. From take off to touch down, he was entertaining and literally had almost every passenger smiling.
Right before the plane took off, he said all of the standard stuff that most flight attendants say, but he told us that our estimated flight time to Las Vegas, Nevada was 2 hours and 30 minutes. The problem with that was everyone on the plane was expecting to go to Los Angeles, California and not Las Vegas. People started panicking, but when he said he was kidding passengers started laughing.
To top it off, when we landed another plane was still at our gate so we had to sit in the plane for an extra 10 minutes. In most cases passengers would have been angry, but the flight attendant started asking us trivia questions, such as how many international flights leave Los Angeles every day. Passengers started to throw out random numbers and within seconds everyone started to play along.
And to make things even worse (better), right before the plane got to the gate the power turned off for no reason, so the pilot had to restart plane. Right when this happened the first thing the flight attendant said was, "I'm glad that didn't happen while we were in air" and once again everyone started laughing.
So if you want to please your customers, you also have to focus on the small things. Having a perfect product or service is great, but that personal touch really makes a big difference.
ConclusionReading a Harvard Business Review is a great way to learn about business, but it isn't the only way. Look around you, the things you take for granted can teach you a lot about business.
You didn't expect to learn anything from an flight attendant, right? I didn't either, but both of us did. So don't take people for granted as you can probably even learn something from a 5 year old.