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CHAPTER 2 The Customer Remains the Same:... > Delivered in a Caring, Friendly Mann... - Pg. 23

the customer remains the same 23 expect to be able to walk away, or walk again, period. That's not reason- ably foreseeable, and I don't expect my Volvo to be designed to protect me from such an event. Nobody (absent the personality disordered) expects you to create products that won't ever malfunction when facing the worst of all possible worlds. But you can't design glaring defects into what you sell and still expect to satisfy your customers. delivered in a caring, friendly manner Even a perfect product or service won't take you far if your customer- facing personnel are misaligned psychologically with the customers they are serving. Lack of caring delivery will sink most any perfect product or service. . . . It can even sink your next flight--or at least your perception of it. Air travel, more than other aspects of modern life, illustrates the astonishing, disproportionate emphasis people put on caring delivery. Perhaps in no other industry do companies hold the lives of their cus- tomers as completely in their hands as do the airlines. Fortunately, the commercial airline industry and its regulators hold us in very, very safe hands: Did you know that, as I write this, there hasn't been a single commercial air transport fatality in the United States this year or last year? 1, 2 That's an extraordinary achievement. About as close to a ``perfect product'' as I can imagine. And there was a little article in the paper about it. But the article was dwarfed by the column inches devoted to passenger frustration with customer service issues: surly flight atten- dants, baggage fees, overcrowding. And this press coverage pretty accurately mirrors how passengers react. They get bent out of shape over little signs of uncaring: flights canceled with abrupt or insufficient explanation, inflexible gate agents, peanut wrappers in seatbacks. Passengers take safety for granted and per- severate over a lack of caring. To quote the practical philosopher Alain de Botton, discussing Brit- ish Airways in his beautifully offbeat study A Week at the Airport, American Managememt Association · www.amanet.org