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The airline industry, for the most part, has trashed its reputation for good service. I actually wrote that you can treat me like dirt, just get me to where I’m supposed to be on time, and I’ll probably fly on your airline again. The airlines, on their own, have defined good service as reliable versus how the passenger is treated.

Okay, there are some exceptions. And the experience I have with my airline of choice is that they will sometimes deliver exceptional service (and sometimes not so exceptional). What if the airlines said, “Pay us a little extra, and we’ll give you better service.”?

That is exactly what Air Canada did with a service they call “On My Way.” If passengers are willing to pay an extra $25 for shorter flights and $35 for longer ones, Air Canada will give them access to a number of specially trained customer service representatives. There also seems to be an insurance component to the fee. If your flight is canceled or delayed, Air Canada promises the passenger a “worry free” experience. They will assist the passenger in rebooking flights that are canceled, delayed, etc., to the next available flight and, if necessary, pay for overnight lodging, even when it is not the airline’s fault (weather related).

Here’s my take. On the surface, it looks like Air Canada is charging more for good service. Good service is something the airlines (or any company) should do anyway. I think it is a mistake to advertise that, essentially if you pay an additional service charge per flight, you get better service. The reality is that what Air Canada is really selling is insurance, and I get it. However, maybe the message shouldn’t be confusing. Good service is one thing but insurance is another.

Shep Hyken is a customer service/CX expert, award-winning keynote speaker, and New York Times bestselling author. Learn more about Shep’s customer service and customer experience keynote speeches and his customer service training workshops at Connect with Shep on LinkedIn. (Copyright ©MMXII, Shep Hyken)

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