Earlier this week (last Friday evening to be exact), I took off on a business trip to Australia. I was scheduled to go from Boston to San Francisco, and from there to Sydney. When I arrived at the airport, I checked in, cleared security, and meandered towards my gate.
When I got to the gate, the gate agent was calling out my name. United's not my regular airline so I didn't have any special status that would get me upgraded automatically or anything like that. So, when the gate agent calls your name in this situation, you usually think "uh oh". I went up to the gate to find out what was up. Here's what they told me: They said that the flight to San Francisco might leave late due to delays in San Francisco so my connection would be tight. So, just to make sure, on the spot they re-booked me through Los Angeles on flights that left and arrived at around the same time as my original itinerary.
The last 15 years I've been Platinum or higher on multiple airlines - but this was the first time an airline had ever been this proactive. As soon as I was re-booked, I checked and there was no delay listed for the San Francisco flight yet nor did the FAA show any general delays for San Francisco. I was pretty impressed and am a very happy customer. I will also try to fly with them more in future (now if they'd only put electrical outlets in coach - but that's another story).
How does this translate to the IT world? If you can anticipate or detect problems before your business users are even aware of them you, will become a hero. Some people want to hide issues from their users, but don't be afraid to let your business users know there's an issue. If you are taking actions to address the issue, and the users see that, they will gain trust in you.
A question that often runs through people's minds when they think of this is, will your users think you're not on the ball if this happens too often (is it better to only react to the really bad issues proactively)? Would I have gotten mad at United if the original flight wasn't actually delayed? Not at all. The fact that they were thinking ahead was what mattered to me.
Users don't expect perfection - they expect (and respect) honesty, empathy, responsiveness. Give them that and they will be with you for the long haul.
View all posts from dan foody on the Progress blog. Connect with us about all things application development and deployment, data integration and digital business.
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