Dear Company, Make My Life Easier. Thanks, Me

The single most critical component to an company's continued growth and success is the overall brand experience. The most effective way to make sure that your organization is providing the most optimal experience for your targets starts with one demand: "Make My Life Easier!" Here's a great example. My husband and I recently took a trip to New Orleans for a friend's wedding. This is what our experience with the connecting return flight on Sunday was like:

4:30 PM: Depart from New Orleans to Memphis

4:45 PM: Email notification from the airline sent to my iPhone notifying me that our connecting flight to Chicago is delayed from 7:30 PM to 9:45 PM

6:00 PM: Arrive in Memphis and confirm Chicago departure with airport monitor. The monitors showed the flight departure time had not changed and was still 7:30 PM. I asked the gate attendant. She said she had no idea the flight time had changed and hadn't been notified. She also suggested we not trust the email. So, we waited at the scheduled departure gate.

9:00 PM: Monitors updated with a new departure time of 10:10 PM

10:00 PM: Monitors updated with a new departure time of 10:45 PM

10:25 PM: Flight from Boston arrives with the plane and crew that was supposed to take us to Chicago

10:45 PM: Flight is canceled because the crew worked their maximum number of hours for the day. We are all advised to go to one of three gates to get hotel vouchers and rebook a flight for Monday. We were also notified that our checked bags were going to require us to wait for up to 30 minutes longer and that the earliest flight we can be scheduled on is at 2:20 PM on Monday.

11:30 PM: We wait for the shuttle to take us to a hotel that was completely booked

12:00 AM: We arrive at a hotel that is not booked and get our room key

12:30 AM: We email our bosses to let them know we will be taking an additional vacation day because our flight was canceled. We receive a call from the front desk that our voucher doesn't include a free night stay and instead includes a discounted rate and that we need to come downstairs and provide a credit card or we'll be asked to leave the hotel.

10:00 AM: We head to the airport to make sure we have seats on the plane that leaves at 2:20 PM

12:30 PM: We are given $100 vouchers for a future flight

2:20 PM: We get on our way to Chicago

Anyone else see something wrong with this picture? No one will ever be excited about a canceled flight that requires them to take a day off that they hadn't planned on taking. However, there are several things that the airline could've done differently to make our lives easier despite the negative situation.

  • Real-time alerts should be consistent across the organization. If your customers are getting email alerts about flight time changes, your staff should have the same information.
  • Proper planning should be done to make sure that there's never a reason to cancel a flight because of a staffing issue that was predictable. No customers should've had to wait at the airport during the time that it took the plane to get from Boston to Memphis because simple math would've told the airline the Chicago flight wasn't possible hours prior to the cancellation announcement.
  • When flights are canceled, there's no reason to ask 75 people to wait in line for another hour to get re-booked. Processes should be in place to make all of the accommodations and notifications of accommodations automatic from hotel arrangements/availability to QR codes for checking in at the hotel to new boarding pass generation. That way, no one has to stand in a line at the gate. They've been inconvenienced enough already.

I know this example is about airlines, but the logic applies across services. If your organization is not making my life and the lives of your other target audience members easier, you have a big opportunity to take advantage of right now!