Recently, Jens Ritter, the CEO of Lufthansa, took a unique step by working as a flight attendant on a roundtrip between Germany and the Middle East (you can read the article here). This experience allowed him to gain firsthand insight into the challenges and demands faced by the flight attendants. He quickly recognized the intricate tasks of preparation, organization, and maintaining a pleasant demeanor for passengers. Ritter's poignant observation, "Sometimes, you need to change perspectives in order to gain new insights," highlights the value of embracing different viewpoints.
This approach should extend beyond a single or a few CEOs and become a practice adopted by airline leaders across the industry. It's not merely about spending a shift on a long-haul flight, but immersing themselves in the economy class to truly empathize with their customers' experiences. Equally eye-opening would be spending time as a counter agent during a flight cancellation—a situation that provides a unique perspective on managing customer dissatisfaction.
A noticeable gap often exists between the decisions made by C-suite executives, the frontline employees, and the actual customer experience. CEOs unfamiliar with the discomfort of sitting in cramped seats for extended periods or being served subpar meals might overlook crucial aspects of their service. They may not comprehend the challenges of dealing with agitated passengers, potentially escalating to unpleasant situations. Bridging this gap is pivotal for enhancing customer satisfaction.
In our industry, we consistently strive to relay feedback from our clients and share our firsthand encounters with the airlines we maintain strong partnerships with. Regrettably, despite our efforts, substantial changes or improvements have yet to materialize. However, our commitment to this cause remains unwavering. Collaboratively, we must unite to cultivate the finest possible experience for our valued clients. By fostering a deeper understanding among executives, employees, and customers, we can usher in meaningful transformations that elevate the entire airline industry.