Friday, May 23, 2014

The Airport Experience

Summer is fast approaching and along with the warm sunshine, the cold drinks, and barbeque also come vacation plans for many of us. While road trips are fun or so I have heard, I like flying to my destination. In my opinion, there is something special about driving up to an airport that doesn’t match the excitement of a road trip.

Come summer time, airports get busier than usual. The check-in line extends out as long as the one when the first In-N-Out Burger opened up here in Dallas. The security line is loaded with a fair bit of tension…take off my shoes? Not if you’re 12 and under. Take your jacket off? Not if you’re 65 and older. “Laptops need to be taken out please!” Somehow even the “please” doesn’t hide the fact that you have just been given an order!

I find it best to travel really light and with just a personal carry on. Life is so much easier for the 20 minutes that you have to spend going through check-in and security (DFW International airport has spoilt me! I realize that it is much longer at other airports.) The excitement, nervousness, and anxiety of getting past these gates is enough for me to head to the nearest bar to relax before getting on a flight.

Once past check-in and security, I enjoy walking around the airport to look at the stores and checking out the eateries. More than the obvious though, my favorite thing is to people-watch. I like to sit down in a spot from where I can watch the pedestrian traffic and look at all the different travelers. Have you ever caught yourself observing fellow passengers and wonder what their story is? Like why is a certain passenger walking the length of an airport in such high heels when clearly they were meant for a night out?! Or why is someone dressed to the nines, hat and all? Where are they planning to go straight from a flight? My favorite though are the moms traveling with their precious cargo. I am a mom of 2 amazing kiddos myself and have been lucky that they have been great travelers. I try to analyze those ‘calm’ moms who seem to have it together with kids less than 5 years of age (that’s my cut-off after which I believe kids travel better). I watch intently as to what they are doing right (read brilliantly) to have their children stay calm and composed and sometimes even enjoy being at the airport. Some airports are definitely kid friendly (like the Schiphol airport in Amsterdam) but a lot of them aren’t yet.

Another interesting observation is the variety of books I see people reading. Next to a library or a book store, watching people with their different reading material is a great place to add to your reading list!

Traveling can be a source of stress, especially the packing and unpacking but the airport experience definitely makes it worth the effort.

What are some of your fun airport experiences/observations? Do you have a favorite airport that makes your airport experience enjoyable?

Charmi Ramchandani

Account Manager

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Are you satisfied with what most companies refer to as ‘Customer Satisfaction’?

Every company uses the catch phrase ‘Customer Satisfaction’.  After all, which company can hope to market their solution and get any traction in the marketplace without adhering to this buzz word as one of the core tenets of their offering. Though companies mean well and most of them actually strive to have client satisfaction as a goal, it is debatable as to how highly on their list they are willing to place this particular aspect of their service. Unless you live on Planet Utopia, the possibility of getting a bug free and totally business compliant solution is only a pipe dream.  However in the real world, Mr. Murphy does tend to be hyper active when and where you least expect him to and how the vendor responds to these unexpected and often unpleasant circumstances is what ultimately determines the failure or success of a project. As the saying goes, life is not about the challenges that you face but about how you face up to those challenges.

Client satisfaction taken in the literal robotic sense devoid of any human sentiment can be measured in hard cold statistics that provide a seemingly irrefutable scorecard on the number of issues that have failed or not working as they were supposed to. However a mere scorecard cannot really capture the intangibles,  as it does not reflect deadlines missed due to inaccurate or incomplete requirements, mission creep and other delays caused by acts of God.

Though customers obviously expect on-time and under budget deliverables, in the unfortunate instances when this is not possible, it is the attitude and approach of the vendor in dealing with these challenges that often times mould the reaction of the client. In the spirit of transparency, if the vendor discloses the challenges and outlines the potential pitfalls as the project progresses, that ensures that the client gains a valuable appreciation of the nuances of the project and at the same time helps calibrate their expectations. This is a much more preferred approach than working in a vacuum with minimal periodic or insightful updates creating a false feeling of comfort on the client’s side which gets disturbed rudely when details of an unexpected unsatisfactory outcome are disclosed at the last minute.

Those kinds of approaches will understandably result in strong backlash and is at the core of customer dissatisfaction.  Honest communication lines need to be open between the vendor and the client in order to achieve any semblance of customer satisfaction. Trust is an incredibly core tenet of the client vendor relationship and that is something that has to be earned from day 1 and is obviously not an attribute that can be taken for granted at the outset of any client vendor engagement.  I have personally seen cases where a relatively major adverse impact on a project was met with a reasonable response from the client as they realized that the outcome was in spite of the vendor putting in their best efforts due to a rapport developed between the vendor and the client. Conversely relatively minor issues have been blown out of proportion by clients owing to a toxic client vendor relationship.

The ultimate measure of customer satisfaction is typically gauged by how likely the vendor is willing to put his or her reputation on the line and recommending the solution to his or her peers.  That perception on the client side is shaped obviously by the merits of a solution and it’s execution but what a lot of vendors fail to realize is building trust and rapport through a human connection with the client is hugely important. Ultimately a great solution is not just one that has the most bells and whistles but also that which places a lot of importance on the intangibles involving inter-personal relationships.

We at RTS are proud to proclaim that our client services team has won multiple acclaims around the globe not just in terms of being subject matter experts in the revenue management domain but by nurturing relationships with clients through constant, courteous and consistent communication.  Rather than engaging in typical client-vendor relationships, we strongly believe that working with clients as partners goes a long way in smooth project management and enhanced customer satisfaction. We realize that you do not treat your passengers like mere statistics and we likewise view our clients as much more than just a number.

Please let us know what factors influence the satisfaction levels that you feel with your products. If you are thinking about a revenue management or pricing solution, we invite you to consider us and experience the award winning RTS customer service that a number of our existing clients can attest to.

Pradeep Bandla
VP, Passenger Solutions