At 30,000 feet

PlaneCloudsWe take a lot for granted: that pilots are well trained and are not sleeping, that the Rolls Royce or GE engines will keep running, that whoever viewed the luggage on the x-ray machine was not texting and the list goes on. We assume, based on faith, hope and statistical evidence that we are going to land safely. Occasionally, we get a wake-up call in the form of an announcement that "the plane is delayed for a mechanical problem"." It is a sobering reminder that we are about to board a complex machine and something could go wrong. Luckily, the issue is fixed, or they change planes, and we are back in our seat taking things for granted.

This may sound like an extreme analogy when you consider that the real topic I have in mind is customer service. It really is not.

When I buy a ticket from on a certain airline it is bundled with a significant dosage of trust and 'for granted' assumptions:  that the check-in process will be smooth, that the plane will not be delayed, that the flight attendants will be pleasant, that the audio controls will work, and of course, that the plane is mechanically sound and that we will land safely at our destination.

When I buy a slice of pizza I have similar 'for-granted' expectations: that the order will be taken quickly, that the right slice was put in the oven, that the pizza will taste good and that when I get home and open the box it will actually contain what I ordered.

As a business, we make a lot of 'for-granted' assumptions as well: that customers will continue to buy, that service or product failures will go unnoticed, that the competition is not so good and therefore we can dismiss their existence, or that when we get very busy it is okay to ignore some customers.

The critical reason why customers have the option of taking things for granted is because they have choices. Which is precisely why, as business owners and service providers, we can't and should not take anything for granted.

At 30,000 feet we hope for the best. At ground level everyone has a choice. When it comes to customer satisfaction you better stay grounded.