With a couple of full months of travel looming, I applied for my KTN — Known Traveler Number – so I can use the TSA approved line. Why I should even have to apply for it is beyond me, as, for many reasons, I am clearly not a threat to anyone.
But I paid my $85, got my background checked, and now am afforded a faster security line at airports with the luxury of not removing my shoes or my laptop from its bag. I proudly sport my TSA PRE label on my boarding pass and in my frequent flyer profile!
Before you comment on here about the need for heightened security and profiling and any other cage I may have rattled, know that isn’t what is important in this blog. What IS important is what happened at the last airport I visited, and how it applies to media sales.
As I stepped up to the security line, I noticed that the TSA PRE line was closed. No one was staffing it, and there was a barrier preventing me from taking my rightful place. I moved to the line with the masses. When my boarding pass was being checked, I was informed that while I would not have to take my shoes off or be subject to the body scan, I would have to take my laptop out and remove my jewelry. So I still had some benefits, but only a few.
And of course, my bag was now pulled out for a full check and swabbed for explosives, as the brownies I was carrying home for my family were clearly suspect. When I smiled politely at TSA Agent, I was met with a stone-faced silence as my bag was handed back to me and I was allowed to move along.
So much for my 85 bucks!
For those moments, I felt like my investment was not a wise one. Do your customers ever feel this way?
- Treat your top or key clients special always, not just sometimes. They have paid for that privilege and it is up to you to give them the service and to put them in a position where they feel they get a fair return on their investment.
- Do what you advertise you will do. There were signs throughout the airport touting the TSA PRE’s features and benefits. When someone buys into that, don’t put a barrier up stopping them from reaping those benefits. If you say spots will run in prime, or a client will get prominent banner space at the event, make it happen.
- Your problem should not be their problem. When I asked the agent if the TSA line was open, he explained they didn’t have the staff for it. The fact that your customer’s spot didn’t get on because there wasn’t a production person available points to your station’s possible poor process management.
- Manage their expectations by reminding them there may be bumps along the road due to human error and natural disasters, but over the long haul, this investment will be worth it. As I sat at the gate musing about this blog, I realized this was one leg of one flight. I was thrilled yesterday when I breezed through security, and I have a lot more air-time on the horizon. As long as my experience is positive the majority of the time in the future, it was money well spent.
- Care. If you do have to put them in with “the masses” – bump their spots or not be able to offer them the special deal – be genuinely apologetic. A little human communication and kindness goes a long way.
If you give your key clients what they expect when they expect it, and remember that they paid for the privilege of doing business with you, you will find it smooth sailing with your top customers.
By Kitty Malone, Efficio Solutions Manager of Client Services