Firms are blowing opportunities to engender their customers’ lifelong loyalty. Here’s an example from my own recent experience:

As an analyst, I fly 100,000-plus miles with a preferred airline every year, and I’m a mobile mind-shifted consumer; therefore, I have made some assumptions that have led to an expectation. Assumption — weather delays are not a new phenomenon in travel; assumption — the technology to analyze data and communicate with passengers has been around for a while now, and my big airline that is bleeding money out of its ears should have invested in it; expectation — my airline is going to use my mobile device to understand and take care of me because I’m important to them.

Here’s a summary of how that turned out not to be the case and how my airline could have used systems of insight to handle a bad situation and secure my lifetime loyalty:

Data they had access to: Weather projections over Chicago.

  • Insight they should have had: My aircraft had a high probability of flying right into a bad system.
  • Action they could have taken: They could have rebooked me before I got on the plane.
  • What actually happened: I was stranded in Chicago when a tornado touched down at about the same time I did.

Data they had access to: Crew location (they all have mobile phones).

  • Insight they should have had: They should have known how long it was going to take to get the crew to my plane once flight ops resumed.
  • Action they could have taken: They could have proactively communicated with me about the status of getting a crew to my aircraft.
  • What actually happened: I was herded like a cow into a rotunda gate area with five other flights. When I got there, the gate agent said the crew was “missing” and nobody knew where they were. Half a dozen phone calls to my special phone number for flyers of my status turned up no additional helpful information except that my flight was taking off eventually. So I didn’t get a hotel or rebook another flight. Big mistake.

Data they had access to: The number of delayed or canceled flights and the pilot’s time on the clock.

  • Insights they should have had: 1) My flight had a high probability of being canceled because of the pilot’s time on the clock, and 2) tomorrow’s flights and local hotels were likely to be booked by folks whose flights were actually canceled.
  • Action they could have taken: 1) They could have notified me of a local partner hotel and advised I book for the night, or even better, booked it for me since they have my credit card on file, or 2) they could have booked me on another nonstop the following day.
  • What actually happened: We loaded onto our flight at 12:30 a.m., in anticipation of finally leaving. The pilot stepped out of the cockpit at 1:00 a.m., said his time was up, and asked us to get off the plane. No hotel within 30 miles had any rooms by that time. I was stranded. My airline actually did automatically rebook me on a flight the next day with an out-of-the-way connection; but when I woke up from my cozy bed on the floor of the airport, I found that the flight had been canceled as well, and I was on my own. I took matters into my own hands, got on standby for a nonstop, and eventually made it — exhausted, unwashed, and cranky — to my meeting, half a day late and feeling no love for my airline that did almost nothing to help in my time of need.

Had my airline done or even attempted to do just one or two of the things I mentioned above, I would have felt understood and valued. I would have understood myself that weather happens and action in a time of chaos is difficult. Instead I am considering ditching them after 10 years of loyalty.

Think customer experience doesn’t matter? Our CX Index research shows just the opposite. Don’t let your firm blow it because they don’t use all the available data to find the insights that create action that makes a difference to your best customers. Understand how systems of insight will get you beyond just data and analytics so you can automatically spot high-value customer trouble spots and act to save the relationship.