Email: The Ultimate Relationship Channel
Now, short of tweeting every single instance of travel hell, there would be no collective way for each of these carriers to know just how bad a travel day I was having, but on an individual basis, they all could have determined that my interaction with their brand, specifically, was sub-par. And they could have addressed it accordingly. No one did.
This is something we speak about often. Brands should deliver a cohesive and informed experience to their customers. Let’s take the airline as an example. I travel with this airline frequently, and I've earned preferred status. However, there was not a single instance -- from the reporting of the lost luggage to the retrieval of said luggage --- when anyone from the airline acknowledged my status or my continued loyalty to their brand. The only thing I was offered for my inconvenience was a $50 travel voucher, available to me only if I chose to drive back to the airport to pick up my found luggage -- no thanks, you can deliver it. I also tweeted about the experience, but got neither a response from the airline to my #AmatureHour reference nor the pleasant surprise of an email acknowledging my angst. I did, however, get a promotional message the very next day. Talk about pouring salt in a wound.
Consumers are connected all the time, and brands need to be as well. Leveraging information about your customers’ experiences can be a great way to influence email communications. After all, email is a relationship channel, and what better way to begin mending those missteps than via a channel that is so direct and so relevant? The airline could have sent an email with a coupon or a voucher for a free drink on my return flight home -- I needed one (or a dozen) after this trip. Even better, send me an email showing me where I can track my luggage online (some airlines have this functionality -- a GOOD idea). At minimum, they could have eliminated me from receiving the promotional offer that went out the next day.
Eventually my luggage was found, but was there damage done to my relationship with this airline? You bet. When looking at opportunities to be relevant and timely with your customers, don’t just consider the positive moments. Those times of absolute displeasure are a real opportunity to send an email that may just change the tone of the experience. Those are the moments that can turn an unhappy customer in to a delighted and surprised loyalist. Don’t squander those moments, as they are genuine opportunities to leverage email for the purpose for which it was intended: creating and maintaining relationships.