In the Trenches: Handling the Surge From Good Press
The Sunday after we exhibited at the conference in Chicago, we had the good fortune of being written up in the LA Times Travel section. That was good and bad. It meant we had a lot more traffic than normal coming in, which is good, but that also added concern about not living up to our promises of quick response times.
Since we're in a service business, the only thing we have is our reputation. If we provide good service, some people will recommend us. If we provide bad service, everyone will recommend not to use us. People tell their friends more when they have a bad experience than when they have a good one. So any time something goes wrong, we feel it with much greater magnitude. And of course, in any service business, things will go wrong.
Having just finished up the conference and getting written up in the newspaper, I could see storm clouds forming. We couldn't just hire more people to handle a temporary surge, but we also didn't want to leave potential clients in a lurch. An air travel assistance business is not something people have heard of for the most part, so we get a higher than average number of calls from people asking what exactly we do. How were we going to handle this?
I decided to set it up so the two people working for me would be available to take calls if necessary. I also had my wife on standby just in case the volume seriously overwhelmed. The big issue wouldn't be from a surge of email but rather a surge of phone calls. And being featured in the actual newspaper and not just online meant that phone calls were likely. If things started to ramp up, I could always get her on the horn.
I guess I took the Scout motto of "Be Prepared" to heart as a child, because we were more than ready to handle the volume. There was definitely a spike that day, but fortunately it ended up being fairly spread out throughout the typical business hours. We signed a few people up and others were able to ask their questions and get their answers. When volume settled back down to normal, I breathed a sigh of relief that things had gone so 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.