In the Trenches: How Extra Help Pays Off
As longtime readers know, I’ve been incredibly busy getting my business of the ground. Now that I have a full-time employee, however, I’ve been able to come up for air (well, except when Hurricane Sandy
caused the cancellation of thousands of flights to and from the East Coast). Before I hired full-time help, I was working myself to the bone. I'd learned how to prioritize tasks to the point where only the most important things registered with me. That is now, mercifully, beginning to change.
Here's a good example. We had a client sign up last week for flight monitoring. There wasn’t anything particularly different about the way the client signed up. The client signed up online and then filled out a form. This form has been around for a long time, and it’s really only meant for people who need our help with planning and booking flights — and not for people who just want us to monitor flights they’ve already booked. At the top of the form, it specifically says that if “you’ve already made your flight reservations, email your flight confirmation email(s) to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you use TripIt, you can simply share your itinerary with email@example.com.”
These instructions seem straightforward to me, and it works perfectly for those who sign up for help planning and booking flights. But this particular client just needed monitoring. She filled out the form and explained that she didn’t see where to input her flight info, so she emailed us to ask. If this had been an isolated incident, I wouldn’t have thought twice about it. But it's not. Clients who need monitoring often fill out this form unnecessarily, so we don't get the information we need and clients waste their time filling it out.
When this happened in the past, I chalked it up to user error and moved on. However, as you probably guessed, user error is just part of the problem.
The reality is we can make the process of supplying flight information much easier. Instead of offering a single form, we can easily create one form for people who sign up for trip planning and another for those who need flight monitoring.
It dawned on me that the reason I didn’t think of this before was probably because I didn’t have time to fix it. It wasn’t a high priority, because we could always go back to the client and ask for details. But now that I have someone doing more of the day-to-day work, I can pull back and really think about ways to make our systems run more smoothly.
Brett Snyder is President and Chief Airline Dork of Cranky Concierge air travel assistance. Snyder previously worked for several airlines, including America West and United, before leaving to create a travel search site for PriceGrabber.com. Snyder did his undergrad at George Washington and earned his MBA from Stanford.