Tag Archives: delta air lines

Embrace Listening to Your Consumer (Especially When It’s Not What You Want to Hear)

On May 4th, Delta Air Lines sent an email to their database with the subject line “Updates to Your Delta SkyClub Access.” In the email, Delta explains that, due to an increasing number of guests to the clubs in recent months, the airline would begin restricting access to the clubs to three hours before your flight and during connections. The email included this fateful line: “With the exception of arriving Delta One customers, Club access will be unavailable for arriving customers without a connection.”

Delta’s social media channels lit up almost immediately following the email. While many complaints were of the general variety, a key theme emerged. Customers who use Delta for business trips (a crucial client base for most airlines) enjoy using the SkyClub when they arrive. Delta was barraged with examples of customers who use the clubs after a flight prior to a meeting, including getting changed or even taking a shower in some locations. Others mentioned using the space for last-minute preparation.

Regardless of the specific angle, it was clear Delta had irritated many of its most loyal customers and the feedback was there for the airline to listen to.

Surprise, it did.

On May 12th, Delta sent another email with the header “We’re Listening to Your Feedback.” In it Delta acknowledges the negative response: “We heard your feedback in response to the updates, including that some customers want to visit a Club to refresh after landing or to recharge ahead of a meeting.” The email goes on to reverse the previously announced policy change: “Arriving customers – with or without a connection – will be able to enjoy the Club upon arrival, as you do today.”

It’s probably safe to assume many customers of any company harbor a certain level of cynicism that their feedback will be listened to, much less acted on. If you think about when you made changes to your own brand, a great many calls and meetings likely took place before the changes. It’s a hassle to change something back. Perhaps even more of an obstacle is the requirement that it requires admitting you were wrong.

But listening to and acting on customer feedback is in the DNA of many of the most successful brands, including ones we have the privilege to call clients and strategic partners. Most brands don’t have the advantage of having 1.6 million Twitter followers, allowing Delta instant valuable feedback on their decision. Qualitative research like our Campfire Online Discussion Groups and 20/20 Focus Groups allow our clients to understand the “whys” behind what their listeners like and don’t like about what they offer. This deeper level of feedback provides a competitive advantage for those that utilize it.

The willingness to make strategic changes based on feedback, particularly when it is contrary to what you thought was the right decision, should be celebrated.

Embrace listening to your customers, and the rest will fall in place.

How to Change Negative Brand Images Into Positives

Tuesdays With Coleman

They charged me for bags. My flight wasn’t on time. They lost my bags. That change fee was ridiculous. There’s no leg room.

The morning show isn’t funny. They talk too much. They play the same songs over and over.

Whether you’re talking about airlines or radio stations, negative images are part of doing business. How you handle it is what sets you apart.

In 2009, Southwest Airlines took on one of those typical negative images about airlines (unreasonable bag fees) head-on. At first, it simply offered free checked bags and assumed the passenger would notice. If the fare between two airlines were similar, the shopper would be saving money on Southwest thanks to the free checked bag. But that logic assumes the consumer will think that through when shopping, even though the bag savings aren’t listed in the fare.

Southwest deployed a marketing campaign called “Bags Fly Free”. But while you likely remember it now, even that campaign wasn’t successful until it was deployed like a sledgehammer, from being plastered on its own planes and baggage carts to stadiums and airports around the United States.

Radio stations often make the same mistake Southwest initially made–assuming consumers will notice when you make a change. You added a song category. You’re playing more songs per hour. You’ve got a new morning show. You’ve got less repetition. Then you wonder why it didn’t make a difference. Why it didn’t move the needle.

Maybe it’s because you didn’t really tell anyone about it outside of your already loyal P1s.

Here’s another example.

The Wall Street Journal named Delta the best airline of 2019. Fortune named Delta one of the top 100 companies to work for.

Delta’s always been great, right?

Sure, if you consider being named the least respected brand in America great. Because a 2013 study revealed Delta was one of the least respected brands in America.

Just ahead of Phillip Morris.

How in the world did Delta go from being one of the least respected brands to one of the most respected in just seven years? The answer is two-fold.

First, of course, Delta had to change the way it did business. These were the internal changes. Changing the culture. Hiring the right people. Buying new planes.

But I’m here to tell you there is absolutely no way that Delta goes from worst to first if they don’t tell anyone about it. That’s why everywhere you look, from the airport to the plane, from the website to the emails, Delta boasts about being the “most awarded airline”. Delta is only able to change the negative images into positives with a consistent, sledgehammer campaign.

Like Southwest’s “Bags Fly Free”.

So, if your radio station (or any brand for that matter) is doing something different, something great, and you are assuming the consumer will figure it out on their own, you’re wrong.

Shout it from the mountaintops. And just when you think they’re tired of hearing it, shout louder.

Then never stop shouting.