It was a tough evening one night as my flight back to Denver was delayed more than three hours. I realized I will now get home at 2 a.m.

As I was going through all these thoughts, I got the following text message from the airline:
“Here We Go! Your flight to Denver is now boarding – Looking forward to seeing you soon.”
First I was relieved and then when I read the text one more time I thought…Really? “Here we go!” felt like a celebratory message. What was there to celebrate about a seriously delayed flight? What was there to celebrate about me getting home at 2 a.m.? Shouldn’t the airline be sorry about the delay?

Brands like my airline have automated customer communication. They predetermine content and pre-plan events (in this case the aircraft ready for boarding) that will trigger different communications. This assures them efficient communication every time. Brands should remember that on the receiving side of the automated communication is a human like you and me. Humans have feelings, and words matter to us, especially when we feel stressed about getting home late. A kind message like “We are really sorry we are late”, would have gone a long way to comfort me.

Communication Is About Effectiveness, Not Efficiency

Brands today are investing millions of dollars to make their communication efficient. Predetermined communication delivered automatically makes it an efficient system and is often how success is defined and measured.

Communications is not just about the message transfer, it is how a brand communicates that is important. Communication success should be measured by the feeling it triggers in the mind of every customer touched by a brand. Brands should marry communication automation with situational intelligence so that the end communication is relevant and meaningful to the audience.

The airline could develop a series of communication content that could be delivered based on situations, for example:

  • Flight on time: “Here we go!”
  • Flight slightly delayed: “Sorry we are slightly delayed”
  • Flight delayed: “We are really sorry for the delay!”

They could even go a step further to deliver different messages to different customers with different travel situations. For example, for travelers with a connection, they can add “We are monitoring your connections and will be ready with a plan when you land.” This would make those travelers feel assured and that the airline really cares about them.

A successful communication should always result in the customer feeling that the brand “knows me and cares about me” and never evoke the feeling of “Really?”

Getting To Meaningful Customer Communication:

  1. Think effective communication before trying to be efficient
  2. Different situations need different communication
  3. Different customers need different communication