#57 – Misleading airline satisfaction articles, my compliments to Tordoffs, and more…


Airline satisfaction headlines and data do not match. My compliments to Tordoffs. Welcome to the 57th edition of my customer strategy newsletter. The five topics this week are:

  1. Poor reporting of latest ACSI airline satisfaction results
  2. My compliments to Tordoffs for how they handled my problem
  3. Latest blog posts
  4. Notable items from other sites – 4 steps to create a survey, Ritz-Carlton employee engagement
  5. Looking forward – GDPR
Poor reporting of ACSI airline satisfaction results

A fact of life in the reporting of scientific subjects is that the headline is sometimes written by someone other than the person who wrote the article. A secondary fact is that the person writing an article about a scientific paper may only have read the title or perhaps the summary of the paper. Both of these seem to have happened in articles I have read about the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index study on the airline industry, released a couple of weeks ago.

Here is what Forbes had to say on April 26th: Americans have a well-documented love-hate relationship with airline travel. More of them traveled more miles than ever before over the previous year but their already-low levels of satisfaction with airlines’ customer service fell even further.”

And SmartCustomerService reported as follows: “Though it’s only April, 2018 has been a tough year for the airline industry. Just in February, Spirit Airlines notoriously forbade a student to bring an emotional support hamster on a flight, and in March, United Airlines forced a passenger to put her dog in an overhead compartment. And it’s not just pet-related problems that plague air travel—ticket costs continue to rise and delays are more common than ever. It’s no surprise, then, that customer satisfaction with airlines has dropped by 2.7 percent year over year…”

So, you could be excused for thinking customer satisfaction with US airlines is poor. Here is the way I would have written the main message I saw in the report: “Despite a few high-profile incidents that exploded on social media, customer satisfaction with US airlines is the second-highest it has ever been since measurements started in 1994.” Can you spot the difference? The Forbes article author, Dan Reed, goes on and on with his personal views about everything that is awful about air travel, and how it is only getting worse. This is not backed by fact. Fake news esteemed readers… fake news.

The ACSI data on the airline industry is here.

My compliments to Tordoffs for how they handled my problem

Continuing an air travel theme, I recently had a pleasant experience with Tordoffs, a UK-based gift service company. Yes, this has something to do with air travel. When I retired a couple of years ago, I had a couple of million frequent flyer miles. The ones that I used most quickly were from Air France – KLM. I had a small amount left and decided to use the remainder to order something from their gift catalog. The various items in the catalog are shipped by third parties. I chose a particular bottle of wine, worth about $25 or so. Swiss customs charges nothing on imports with a value below about $65 including shipping, and there was no charge for shipping the wine from the Air France – KLM supplier, Tordoffs.

However, all did not go according to plan. Someone at Tordoffs made a mistake and declared the customs value to be 70 UK pounds, about $95; an amount that corresponded to a different bottle of wine. Swiss customs charged me about $45 in VAT and other fees.

I wrote an email to Tordoffs asking to be reimbursed for the error. They quickly acknowledged the mistake and asked whether I had a PayPal account. Reimbursement followed a couple of days later.

Congratulations to Tordoffs on a great attitude and quick service!


Our latest blog posts

Here are the latest posts. Older posts are still available on the blog page.

image The start of a long story: How I learned about ‘customer-centric cost reduction’.

Such a contrast I was looking out my office window near Charles de Gaulle airport in 1982. The phone rang just as I was watching Concorde take off on its daily run to New York…

image How do you know whether your latest relationship survey score is better than your last one?

This is not a stupid question! Last week I had the pleasure of speaking to an LA-based reader and head of customer experience for a very large company. He had his latest research results, and there had been a slight decline in scores, despite improvements he knew they had made.

image Useful if you have no NPS® benchmarks for your company – Please help me to improve this ACSI to NPS converter

As many of you know, public competitive NPS benchmarks are exceedingly rare. This article proposes an approximate solution for translating American Customer Satisfaction Index data into NPS numbers.

Notable customer experience items from other sites

Thematic: 4 steps to create a successful customer survey

Thematic is a text analytics leader and CEO Alyona Medelyan has written a great article on how to create a successful survey. She describes four steps:

  1. Plan: Plan for survey success
  2. Design: Receive authentic responses
  3. Collect: Get the most out of your survey
  4. Analyze: Find answers and insights in responses

Alyona seems to like having more questions in a survey than I tend to prefer. Otherwise, the article is both detailed and easy to understand. Essential reading. Get it here.

Forbes: How the Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center uses employee engagement to drive customer experience

Regular readers will know that hotels are one of the few industries where there is a relatively high correlation between employee and customer satisfaction. Employee engagement does not have a standard definition, though it seems to be more important, no matter what definition is used. Bryan Borzykowski interviewed Jeff Hargett, senior director of The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center for this article. I have been a fan of their approach to employee engagement and NPS ever since listening to former CEO Horst Schulze speak in one of Rob Markey’s Net Promoter System Podcasts. Their emphasis on employees’ role in customer experience is an example all others should follow. Read all about it here.


Looking forward

The General Data Protection Regulation will come into force in the EU later this month. I have decided to align myself with GDPR rules. Mostly, this means no change for me, as I have already committed to all readers that I will not disclose their email addresses or other information to third parties. And of course I use your email addresses exclusively to send newsletters and blog updates.

However, there is one thing I have done in the past that I plan to stop doing. Some of you first received this newsletter because I guessed your email address, based on knowing what format your company uses. I think there are just about 60 people in this situation, but I have no idea which 60 as the records look exactly the same as for people who signed up on their own. In any case, I have been using my one-time tracking exercise of a month ago to remove most of the names of people who did not open the newsletter that week. And of course, you can unsubscribe at any time.

Here are links to all of our books on Amazon.com. Kindle versions are available in all stores. Print versions are available from the major stores only, with the notable exception of Australia, where print versions are not available from amazon.com.au.

Customer Experience Strategy – Design & Implementation

Net Promoter – Implement the System

Customer-centric Cost Reduction

“So Happy Here”: The Absurdist but Essential Guide to Better Business (Color edition)

“So Happy Here”: The Absurdist but Essential Guide to Better Business (Black & White edition)

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You can also email me, Maurice FitzGerald, at mfg@customerstrategy.net.

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