Coffee, Tea or Laptop?

Coffee, Tea or Laptop?

Last week was a bad week for the airlines. The United Airlines customer service debacle hurt all airlines, not just the United brand. It’s not uncommon for flights to be overbooked, delayed and canceled. Passengers get angry. Airline personnel get angry. “Travel hassle” can be very stressful on everybody.

I love it when I take a flight that is on time. And, I love it, even more, when the flight attendants on those flights understand that after their number one priority, which is safety, their second job is to be brand ambassadors for the airline they represent. And, that goes for all other airline personnel. By the way, that’s a pretty good way to operate any type of business.

So, with all the negative press surrounding United Airlines, I thought that sharing some good news about another airline might be a breath of fresh air. This great story starts with some bad news that was out of the airline’s control. It was recently announced that airlines flying from certain countries would have to collect from passengers any electronics larger than a cell phone. That means business people can’t bring their laptops on board. Families can’t bring iPads or other tablet PC’s that might have movies and games to keep their children occupied on these long international flights.

Let me emphasize that this is not the airlines fault. This ban on electronics is a United States of America policy. I’m not going to go into the ways this could negatively impact airline financials, but that’s a big concern. What can an airline do?

Well, Qatar Airline, which operates out of Doha, Qatar, one of the countries that is part of the electronics ban, is trying to make some lemonade out of lemons. While not a total fix, they have a way to ease some of the pain. They are providing “loaner laptops” to all business and first class passengers. In addition, all passengers get at least one hour of free WIFI. And, for just $5.00, passengers can have WiFi for the entire flight.

So, here is the lesson: Every company must stay within the law. Some industries are heavily regulated and must adhere to compliance and tough rules that they have no control over, and many of these rules or laws are not customer friendly.
So, when faced with a government-imposed regulation, or even a tough company policy, what can you do, like Qatar Airlines has done, to comply, but still make it easier on your customers?

Brainstorm the question with your employees. Consider all answers, from the ridiculous to the realistic. Somewhere in between, you’ll find your version of the “loaner laptops.”

Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, keynote speaker and New York Times bestselling business author. For contact information, visit Follow on Twitter: @Hyken

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