What do you get from FedEx? Is it a new shirt from JCrew? Maybe. Is it a pair of Bulls tickets? Maybe. A Vitamix 7500? Maybe.
You can get a lot of different things from FedEx. But, no matter what you get, you always get status. A status update. Your tracking number. Every step along the way, you get a status update of where your stuff is. No waiting. No worrying.
You will have your shirt in time the wedding. You will have your tickets in time for the big game. You will have your Vitamix in time for your party. Why? Because you got five status updates saying so.
So why haven’t airlines figured this out? Checking a bag isn’t painful because of the fees. Or the line. It’s because you leave your bag in exchange for hope. A chance. A big question mark at the carousel.
Seriously, what flier would say no to a tracking number for their bag? A little status update. You can keep the peanuts.
NOTE: There will be a race to implement this technology into the flying process. My prediction is that Southwest is the first. And if not, the first airline will charge a premium for the service.
At the airport, CVS or at the movie theater, you’ll find self-checkout. Self-checkout has its benefits. Most of those benefits, though, do not go to you or me. The customer. We don’t care about lower labor costs, less shrinkage or better analytics.
We, the customer, don’t like the imbalance of benefits associated with self-checkout. But this is not what’s so painful. The utter lack of updates we get during the process, especially when we’re waiting, is what’s so painful
At self-checkout, there’s nobody to give you an update. Good or bad. There’s nobody to say “We’re experiencing delays with the computer.” There’s nobody to say, “Customer assistance for an extra register please.” There’s nobody to say, “Ma’am, this credit card didn’t go through, can we try another?”
How can we get self-checkout machines to give status updates? We don’t need much. Something like, “I’m an expert, here’s what’s happening, here’s how long it’s going to be. Thanks for the patience.” Oh, that’s a job a machine can’t do?
Getting an update is always good. Even if the news isn’t.
When your contractor calls you to say he’s over budget, you’re glad you got the update. When the subway announces the train will be stopped for ten minutes, you’re glad you got the update. When your waiter says they’re out of the dover sole, you’re glad you got the update.
Good updates are obviously better. But the bad ones are better than nothing.
So if getting updates is so good, why not give more?