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@Jeroen - thank you for sharing the SlideShare link and for stopping by. Small steps at critical junctures can lead to more discoveries as well.

@Brian - it is such a vicious cycle. As Tom says in the comments here, they don't want to know exactly what needs to be done, and they don't want to do it. Sounds like I'm too much the optimist. Executives of any company should experience the results of their own decisions. There ought to be a Board-driven compensation metric tied to customer experience.

@Gabriele - you put your finger on it, too many moving parts. For now, I choose airlines that seem to like customers more every chance I get.

@Christina - instant karma on trying your own service ;) There was a TSA agent at the Philadelphia airport a little while back who literally treated people with contempt; we were a nuisance. Meanwhile, you have a couple hundred people going through one open security check, trying to figure out where the line was (not clearly demarcated), and nobody was moving (people do get there way early, yet they'd like to get on their flight).

@Linda - don't get me started on hotel internet access and gym fees. I agree, we pay for the stay/trip, barely get one cup of water on the plane, you cannot touch anything in the hotel room without incurring an astronomical extra charge... ironically, I see people buying $5-worth of bottled water at Starbucks; psychologically, you have already paid the hotel (in many cases handsomely) for the one night stay. Any business should know where they make money and be disciplined about pursuing only that. Back to Porter and the 5 levers, etc.

@Tom - glad I provided the entertainment value. I do have a little experience in business, have worked in five industries and several companies, and do know that often the customers sat score questions are slightly rigged to provide a rosier picture. If I didn't know better, I'd infer from your second push back that most people are gluttons for punishment ;)

"There is a disconnect between what companies think they deliver, and what they actually do." Sorry Valeria, most know precisely what they deliver.

"There is no amount of points you could give a customer who has had a horrible experience to go back to the same brand or organization." Sorry again, but most people will tolerate poor service and quality for points, deals, etc. and return again and again. That's why organizations report on, and tolerate, "churn." It's part of their flawed business model.

"I'd say that the main difficulty many organizations have is with knowing to ask the right questions -- or, in some instances, wanting to do so." I'd say in almost all instances, it's wanting to know and wanting to do something once they do.

Thanks for a stimulating post!

I travel a fair amount too, Valeria, so I can sympathize with your experiences with the airlines. So much, in fact, that I wrote a post outlining the 10 things I'd do to improve the experience if I were responsible for a major airline. One simple idea: stop over-promising and start over-delivering on fewer promises.

I'd also collaborate with employees on designing customer experiences to eliminate staff venting at the ticket counter among employees. I'd actually raise prices a bit to stop nickel-and-diming people with all these add-on charges -- and then promote the heck out of it, trusting that customers are smart enough to know that an airline needs to be profitable.

Like you, I think it's time airline leaders proactively define a target customer experience and then drive daily decisions across the organization to make the ideal closer to reality. In the absence of rules, people make up their own. And in the absence of a clearly defined target customer experience, an airline chases fees or cost cutting or happiness or efficiency...and fails at all of them.

Just a few thoughts. Loved the post, Valeria. Thanks for stirring up some good conversation. LCI

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