In the Trenches: Getting Feedback from Partners
There's not much more valuable to developing our business than getting good feedback from clients. That is, of course, the best way to learn where we fall short and how we can improve. Although it’s good to get feedback from our regular customers, they don’t always have a vested interest in actually providing it to us. It’s not that they don’t want to comment; it’s that they have little to gain by doing so. There is one source, however, that has been invaluable.
Part of our business involves agreements we've made with other travel agencies and tour operators to assist their clients with booking flights and to provide those customers with our flight-monitoring service, too. This works out well, because many agencies don’t want to deal with air travel, which is our specialty. However, it can be a bit nerve-wracking when people from our partner companies use our service to travel themselves. Naturally, I want to make sure they have a great experience — and I’ve found that, no matter what, they are a great source of feedback. After all, travel agencies and tour operators want their clients to have the best experience possible, so when they use our services directly, they are never shy about sharing what went right and what went wrong.
There’s no question that this raises my anxiety level a little, but I absolutely appreciate their feedback. Recently, we had a partner client on a multi-stop trip, and she ran into a little trouble with our service. When she asked us about the baggage allowance on her flight, our concierge responded that she could check with the airline directly to see whether a fee applied.
We had actually booked this ticket for the client, so we should have been able to provide that information. Even if we hadn’t, we still should have helped — and this made me realize that we can do a better job with information flow. Concierges need to know client-specific information when we have it. For example, if we had known that she was an elite member on the airline she was flying, then we could have told her that she wouldn’t have to pay any fees to check her bags. (That said, her situation was actually a relatively complex thing to figure out, which is a different issue.)
In the end, this was a great learning experience, and it’s the kind of feedback that we don’t necessarily get from our regular customers. Thanks to our partner’s input, I’m now working on building better communication tools.
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.