Anyone who’s worked in business aviation operations — either as a charter broker, a pilot, or in a corporate flight department — has dealt with recovering from “service occurrences” (i.e., unhappy customers).
In private aviation, the main reason for a disconnect between customer expectations and reality lies in what aviation specialists typically focus on — safely getting passengers from one place to another — and what private jet customers expect in terms of service.
Many private jet passengers look forward to the privacy, luxury and comfort offered by private flight. But not every company ensures each flight comes with the level of customer service that’s on par with passengers’ high-end expectations.
When the client’s expectations aren’t met, private aviation companies can expect to lose business.
That’s why Mountain Aviation works to lead the way when it comes to customer satisfaction in the private aviation sector.
Here are 5 ways private aviation providers can not only prevent customer service problems, but also provide a quality experience suited to passenger needs that’ll help ensure repeat business.
1) Build a Culture of Service
In private aviation, safety is always the number one priority. But any successful (and ultimately profitable) private aviation business must make customer service the number two priority.
It’s the prerogative of professional private aviation companies to make sure their employees understand that a big part of their role is customer service. The way to do this is to build a culture of service.
Starting from the top with senior leadership, private aviation companies need to found their business model on the importance of providing an outstanding customer experience.
That means that every customer interaction is executed with the mindset of “Yes, we can make that happen” — rather than “Sorry, but we don’t do that.”
Rewarding employees that go above and beyond to cater to customer needs is a good way to show that customer service is a company-wide priority.
2) Provide High-End Customer Service Training
Build on a culture of service with investment in high-end customer service training.
All customer-facing employees — from pilots to flight booking agents — should be provided with opportunities for ongoing training to stay up-to-date with industry norms.
It may also be worth it to provide employees who don’t interact with clients regularly with customer service training. This can include everyone from accountants to mechanics.
There may be rare occasions in which staff who don’t typically encounter passengers do have an interaction with them. Training for this can help maintain a consistent customer experience.
Additionally, non-customer-facing employees will have more patience and respect for the priorities of the customer-facing ones if they understand what’s involved in providing a high-end passenger experience.
Ultimately, this will allow them to help the team reach its goals when it comes to customer satisfaction.
3) Words Matter — Even When No One’s Listening
Part of creating a culture of service is establishing a company language for both customer-facing and internal communications.
If employees put on a smile when the customer is on board, then refer to passengers in a negative way in internal emails, then they don’t actually respect the customer.
A culture of service is really about a culture of respect. For starters, be sure to refer to all clients as “guests” — both internally and externally.
The word “serve” is also helpful in talking about how to treat customers. Private jet customers are guests and the entire aviation team “serves” at their pleasure. All employees should be thinking in these terms, and follow the expectation to speak of guests in a respectful way.
Think about luxury customer service experiences: whether it be a stay at 5-star hotel or a meal at a gourmet restaurant, private aviation companies should strive to incorporate the same kind of language used by these industries in both literature and training.
4) Lead By Example
Employees can’t be expect to provide excellent customer service if leadership doesn’t do the same.
Senior level staff should show team members what luxury customer service looks like by providing it themselves every time they come in contact with customers.
Secondly, leadership should help employees in their efforts to serve guests. Rather than giving orders, a leader asks, “How can I help you make this happen for the customer?”
By showing employees that everyone in the company is willing to invest the time and energy into creating top-notch experiences for guests, the entire team will more readily aspire to a high level of customer service expectations.
5) Invest in CEM
A customer’s experience isn’t just defined by how friendly the pilot is, or how comfortable the seats are.
The ease of booking, convenience of payment, and other processes feed into passengers’ customer service experiences, too.
Is the on-board Wi-Fi fast enough? Is the website easy to navigate, and mobile-friendly?
Every touch point between a private aviation company and the customer defines their experience. And we may not always know when a customer leaves dissatisfied with some aspect of that experience.
That’s why CEM is so important. A CEM, or Customer Experience Management system, is a must when taking customer service seriously.
There are excellent CEM softwares that help manage, track, and improve customer experience. These programs automatically follow-up with customers with short, simple surveys that give the entire team the feedback they need to know where they’re succeeding and where they’re falling short.
CEM software can also incentivize customers to take surveys by offering coupons, discounts, gifts, and the like.
A good CEM software allows customization of surveys and the ability to reach customers on a variety of platforms from email to social media.
Flying Into the Future
Staying ahead of the competition with customer service expectations in 2019 and beyond is just one important way Mountain Aviation has been able to make clients happy for nearly 20 years.
We also strive to keep in line with trends across the industry, from the importance of easy online booking to the increasing role companies such as ours play in all-encompassing aircraft management.