When it comes to improving the customer experience, technology works wonders. It eliminates human error, helps to realize promised schedules, and dramatically increases customer satisfaction.
But, according to J.D. Power & Associates, there’s a downside to the increased use of electronic automation: It’s the lack of human contact. The organization’s 2013 North American Airlines Satisfaction Study not only came to the logical conclusion that more technology means less human interaction, it also measured the impact.
The problem: Technology is toothless.
The research found that even an occasional smile from an airline staff member makes a big difference to fliers. On a 1,000 point scale, passengers greeted with a few smiles were 105 points happier with their flight than those who never received a smile. For those greeted consistently with staff smiles, the passenger satisfaction margin jumped 211 points higher.
Smiles are as joyful to give as to receive.
Smiles have been found to help to build relationships between the airline and its passengers, and directly contribute to customer loyalty. And they work both ways. Mark Stibich from Columbia University found that smiling improves moods, relieves stress and boosts immunities for staff members of the company who’s doing the smiling.
Honeywell’s take on the research.
You can’t legislate a smile. Requiring them in the employee handbook won’t get you very far. That’s what makes a smile so appreciated – for the most part, it’s genuine. Reaping the benefits of a smile as described above begins by creating a “culture of smiles.” It starts with your attitude toward the people you work with, who, in turn, pass it on to their associates until it finds its way to the gate agent who cheerfully welcomes a passenger on board – and makes his or her day.