The Common Uncommonly

All About Loyalty

Newton’s Law of Eventual Disappointment

What goes up must come down. So what gets upgraded…

Last year I was flying from Amsterdam to Memphis on KLM with my daughter, who was 7 at the time. When we checked in, we got some good news: upgrades to first class (sweet!). My daughter didn’t understand why I was so happy, which makes sense when you consider that:

1) She’s 7, so she would have ample leg room in the back seat of a Porsche.

2) She’s 7, so she doesn’t care whether the steak is tender because it’s still no mac and cheese.

3) She’s 7, so she doesn’t really care about carry-on space as long as there’s a Barbie and a pony within reach.

KLM Flight attendants

A first-class smile

So about the only benefit I could convey was that everyone is generally nicer in first class. And boy, were they. Smiling flight attendants doted on her the whole 10 hours, and while she was very low-key and almost shy about it, you could tell she enjoyed the attention.

A few weeks later, as we checked in for the return trip to Amsterdam, she hopefully asked if we were sitting in the front of the plane again. Alas, not this time. With a combination of dread and sadness in her eyes, she asked me:

“So they won’t be nice to me this time?”

It may have been difficult for my daughter to initially realize the benefits of an upgrade, but once she experienced them, it turned the usual coach class experience from tolerable to disappointing. That one positive experience may have done more harm than good by changing her expectations of what future flights would be like.

Sure, you spend a lot of time managing the customer experience. But do you spend enough time making sure customers have reasonable expectations?

Written by Tom Logue

May 19th, 2011 at 8:00 am

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