It almost goes without saying that airlines have taken customer service to new lows. Even with this in mind, American Airlines surprised me at 6am Monday morning.
The boarding call began: “We would like all First Class customers to board at this time.”
And then, “Business Class customers are welcome to board.”
And then, “AAdvantage Executive Platinum customers can now board.”
And on down the line: Gold, Silver, Bronze, Group 1, Group 2, Group 3….after eight groups had been called, there I was standing together with about five other people who were left, and the gate agent may as well have said, “All right, I guess you all can get on the plane now too.”
It is easy to get lured into the concentric circles of customer segmentation and differentiated service, but it only works if the system is invisible to the customer.
Of course on some level I know and expect that there are people who get red carpet treatment, but that’s different than breaking the basic bargain that says: if you are our customer, we are going to treat you with respect and try to earn your business again.