Duct Tape and Customer Trust

After a customer service presentation I recently conducted, an attendee wrote to me about a situation that reminded her of my comments regarding attention to detail – “Everything Speaks,” – and how details can either build or erode customer trust. Here’s some of what she shared:

"I thought you would be interested in seeing the attached picture that I took on my flight home. As I was getting on the plane, my colleague had a hilarious/concerned look on her face (she had boarded a little earlier than me and was one seat ahead of mine) – she said as I was passing her 'All I can say is … duct tape …' (she had attended your presentation as well and had heard your talk). As I proceeded to my seat, I saw that my airplane window literally had duct tape all around it - luckily I was seated in the aisle. I immediately summoned the flight attendant; he had a very aloof personality and said that I shouldn’t worry, that the tape was only holding the window against the inner part of the plane wall and that the 'outer part' was fine. (You should have seen the look on the woman’s face who was sitting in the window seat). At one point during the flight the attendant walked past us and said sarcastically, 'Oh good, you’re still here!'"

I love it when program attendees share stories like this!

Now, I’m no aviation engineer, but I’m sure the plane was indeed safe. In this type of situation, however, I’d recommend the airline should’ve gone to great lengths to either repair the window before boarding that group of passengers, or find a replacement plane. Yes, delays would’ve been involved; but I’d argue that passengers are much more familiar with delayed flights than they are with duct taped planes. My guess is that this story will be shared many, many times, and the airline won’t be credited for taking off on time, it will be ridiculed for causing passenger alarm.

Question to consider: What are your “duct tape solutions” that erode customer trust?

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