John Sciacca Writes...
Random Thoughts (Blog)
Random Thoughts (Blog)
Random Thoughts (Blog)
|Posted on July 11, 2010 at 11:48 PM|
Today finds me flying back from San Diego after attending my grandfather’s funeral. (It is almost 9 PM CA time as I write this sitting outside the McDonalds at the San Diego airport, suckling greedily from the free WiFi.) I think this marks a maximum travel point in my life; I will now have flown cross-country – literally from coast to coast – twice in under 10 days; first the Sony event and now, unexpectedly, this.
Generally, I don’t travel that much, so I don’t really mind flying. I mean, I don’t *love* it, but I don’t dread it either. Most times it’s actually a nice bit of forced down time where I finally completed the Sisyphean task which was finishing Stephen King’s “The Dome.” (Only about $5 in library late fees racked up so far; actually this book has traveled so much with me, it has probably earned Elite status with several airlines and hotels.) However, because I’m several inches over 6 feet tall, I find it rather uncomfortable for long flights; not quite deep-vein-thrombosis-in-my-thighs uncomfortable but more like migraine headache that has settled nicely into my lower back. Also, even on a red eye – Satan’s exquisite little gift to west-to-east travelers – it is almost impossible for me to actually sleep on a plane.
But today I woke up to find the three most beautiful words imaginable in my e-mail in-box from US Air. “You’ve been upgraded!” On this all-praise-to-Jesus! overnight leg from San Diego to Charlott, I will be riding in luxe comfort at the front of the plane. Big cushy seat. Snacks. And drinks. Oh, yes, stewardess, I would care for a drink before we start taxiing.
Sure, everyone wants to hear their significant other say, “I love you.” (Or, “It’s business time,” which, if you know what “Business Time” is, you’ll understand how those words can often be even more welcome. Though, it would have been more than a little awkward and uncomfortable if US Air had sent me an e-mail saying that it was Business Time...) And, yes, those are three very important words. But just *imagine* for a moment what possibilities could be in store if the next time you came home from a long day, or as you were crawling into bed, instead of “I love you” your partner told you that “You’ve been upgraded.” I have no idea – OK, I actually can imagine several ideas… -- of what that kind of upgrade might be, but be honest, whatever it is, that is an upgrade that you are going to gladly accept.
But then it got me to thinking, look how excited this upgrade has made me. I called my parents. I called Dana. I'm posting a blog about it. Getting an upgrade to First Class has literally made my day. And the cost to US Air? Nothing! Those seats are there, might as well put someone in them. (OK, they are gonna eat a few bucks in drinks. In fact, I’m already thinking about the Pomegranate Martini I’ll be having in like 2 hours. Followed by a Hayes Ranch Chardonnay. Then I’m just gonna see where the party takes me.)
But seriously, by flying US Air, I have earned a reward level with them that occasionally rewards me in turn with upgrades to First Class. Because of this, I fly US Air almost exclusively now. It’s a wonderful, symbiotic, self-perpetuating circle of love and beauty. (Delta, this could have been you! You and your Crown Room so filled with free drinks and salty snacks and uncomplicated coffee machines. Why did you have to set your prices so high, pushing me into the arms of another? Why?!)
So, how can we use this upgrade system to improve our businesses? How can we reward our best customers with the equivalent of a “You’ve been upgraded!” e-mail? How can we make them feel like they are special and that we want to reward them? And not just for those one-time, giant mega-lo-purchases, but for all those people who continue to give us the equivalent of all those little flights from Myrtle to Charlotte, Charlotte to wherever? Those service calls to reprogram a remote, or upgrade to a Blu-ray, or add a pair of outdoor speakers or the myriad of other things that those customers who have been with us for 3, 5, 10+ years routinely call us for.
Can it be with some no cost service calls? Can it be with extended after hours support or weekend or holiday service calls? Can it be bumping something else out of a full schedule to accommodate them? Could it be with proactive “Mr. Smith, you’re such a valuable customer that I want to just come out – at no charge, of course – and make sure that everything is operating at peak potential”?
Whatever it is, these premier customers are likely the very ones that have been keeping our company(s) in business and are used to receiving premium treatment for on-going loyalty. I’d love to hear your comments on things you’re your company does or that companies have done for you to make you feel Chairman, President or Platinum Level.