Keeping customers in the loop


I’m always amazed when airlines refuse to show the current status of delays at the gate. They apparently want dozens or hundreds of people to stand in line and ask the same questions: “Are we delayed?”, “When are we leaving?”, etc. I’ve seen this in various cities and with different airlines, including much-loved Southwest. It almost seems like an industry-wide anti-customer policy is in effect.

Here’s a radical idea: Take a black marker and a piece of white paper. On the paper, write: “As of (current time), we are delayed and expect to depart at (new departure time),” or “As of (current time), we are delayed and don’t know how long it’s going to be.” Tape it above the counter at the gate. Then, whenever new info is received, throw out the old sign and make a new one. Seems pretty easy to me.

We can apply this to software, too. When there’s a significant problem that affects your customers, tell them about it and when you think it will be fixed. If you can’t pick a time and date, just be honest and say so. And when you have new info about the issue, be sure to update the message that customers see, so they understand that it’s being worked on. Long story short, people respond a lot better to problems when you acknowledge the issue, show them what you’re doing to fix it, and provide status updates when you have them.