There are two places of, what I will call for today, Customer Service Evil: cell phone companies and airlines. If pressed to add to the list, I suppose I could also include utility companies, cable/satellite providers and the US Government. These entities have three things in common: They are huge industries, they seem to think they have no competition (or at least they play the game that way) and they couldn’t possibly care any less about their customers.
But for now, let’s keep it simple. In fact, lets keep it real simple. Let’s limit ourselves to one thing: Frontier Airlines and the lost chocolate chip cookie.
For more years than I remember, I fly Frontier Airlines. They hub out of Denver, my home area. Their ticket prices are, when not better, extremely competitive with their peers. And back when they hooked me with their cute little television sets on nearly every flight, their people actually seemed happy to have you on board. I’ve been a Summit member, an Ascent member, an Early Returns member and a lowly peon member.
A few of those things have not changed, and before I register my complaint, I want to mention that many of their people are wonderful and very often their prices are the best. It’s just the whole thing with the chocolate chip cookie that ruined everything.
For a bit (maybe a year or two), Frontier Airlines has served freshly baked (well, re-baked) chocolate cookies on their flights. They were hot, fresh (?) and free. Mostly, the smell of them re-baking as well as their distribution, was a pleasant surprise on any flight. And any surprise on a flight that would be considered “pleasant,” has to be a good thing. Some passengers declined. Most smiled and accepted. Many got downright excited (I would fall into that category).
For me, the anticipation of the cookie was so high that upon boarding a Frontier flight, I would routinely ask the greeting attendant, “So, you making cookies?”
It was a sad day, then on April 25, 2012, when my boarding inquiry on a flight to San Diego, was met with this response, “We are, but I hear from catering that this is the last time.” What?
You can read about it on a Google search. Type in “Frontier Airlines chocolate chip cookie.” USA Today covered it. So did the Overhead Bin, Huffington Post, Denver Post, Fox News and others. “When we looked at the cookie, we were the only domestic low-cost carrier serving a free, perishable snack on board,” said Frontier spokesperson Lindsey Carpenter. “That doesn’t align with the perception or financial reality of a low-cost carrier.”
Ohhhhhh Lindsey, that’s the whole idea, EXACTLY. It didn’t align. That’s what made it so great. You were stepping, every so slightly, into the realm of Tom Peters land. You were amazing, amusing, surprising and delighting and all with one re-baked chocolate chip cookie. You may not know this, but in the 35,000 foot world, it’s gotten so bad that something as small as a flight attendant with an original way to deliver the safety demonstration is considered fun!
And, Lord have mercy, you seem to be able to run millions of dollars on a campaign promoting which talking rodent, fowl, fish, mammal or bird will grace the tail of your disappointing airline. But a chocolate chip cookie doesn’t make the customer service financial cut?
Chocolate chip cookies, the high cost deal breaker are just a little thing. And that, as any observer and lover of great customer service will tell you, is the point. It’s the little things that make a difference. It’s the small, little things that separate bad from good and good from great and great from WOW!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not boycotting Frontier or anything like that. I have too much invested in my ability to get where I want to go. You are certainly no worse than your fellow airlines. In fact, you ALIGN with them now, perfectly. And I guess that’s what you wanted after all.
Oh, the price of a chocolate chip cookie…