In the Trenches: Getting Feedback from Partners

There’s not much more valuable to developing our business than getting good feedback from clients. That is, of course, the best way to learn where we fall short and how we can improve. Although it’s good to get feedback from our regular customers, they don’t always have a vested interest in actually providing it to us. It’s not that they don’t want to comment; it’s that they have little to gain by doing so. There is one source, however, that has been invaluable.

Part of our business involves agreements we’ve made with other travel agencies and tour operators to assist their clients with booking flights and to provide those customers with our flight-monitoring service, too. This works out well, because many agencies don’t want to deal with air travel, which is our specialty. However, it can be a bit nerve-wracking when people from our partner companies use our service to travel themselves. Naturally, I want to make sure they have a great experience — and I’ve found that, no matter what, they are a great source of feedback. After all, travel agencies and tour operators want their clients to have the best experience possible, so when they use our services directly, they are never shy about sharing what went right and what went wrong.

There’s no question that this raises my anxiety level a little, but I absolutely appreciate their feedback. Recently, we had a partner client on a multi-stop trip, and she ran into a little trouble with our service. When she asked us about the baggage allowance on her flight, our concierge responded that she could check with the airline directly to see whether a fee applied.

We had actually booked this ticket for the client, so we should have been able to provide that information. Even if we hadn’t, we still should have helped — and this made me realize that we can do a better job with information flow. Concierges need to know client-specific information when we have it. For example, if we had known that she was an elite member on the airline she was flying, then we could have told her that she wouldn’t have to pay any fees to check her bags. (That said, her situation was actually a relatively complex thing to figure out, which is a different issue.)

In the end, this was a great learning experience, and it’s the kind of feedback that we don’t necessarily get from our regular customers. Thanks to our partner’s input, I’m now working on building better communication tools.

About Brett Snyder

Brett is the Founder and President of Cranky Concierge air travel assistance. He also writes the consumer air travel blog, The Cranky Flier.
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Great article, Brett.  In my view, the MOST important point  is KNOWING your clients and their travel-related details.  Everything.  How a travel professional got into your system without your firm's learing that they held elite status on that airline is beyond my understanding.  You and your associates have learned a valuable lesson via this example, but the broader questions remain open.  In your situation, the initial intake of a new client should include every scap of treavel-related detail about that client, including not just personal preferances, but frequent flyer acccount numbers and even crredit card numbers.  Some clients may be put off by revealing that much personal detail and perhaps it might take two interviews to collect everything.  In a crunch, when your services aree REALLY needed, you and the cl ient should not be wasting valuable time swapping account numbers, but making the calls necessary to execute Plan B, or, in the case of the client, racing to a different gate.  When everything works as it should, you will have a Plan B waiting, and before your client is even aware that there is a problem.  Your is an impressive service, on that I think of as insurance.  Best wished for continued growth and success. 


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