Delta faced intense pushback from disgruntled customers. His response is brilliant

Last week I wrote about Delta Air Lines and a new policy that has many customers angry about. As a percentage of total travelers, the number of those affected by the policy was not particularly large, but more likely they were some of Delta’s best and most loyal customers.

The policy added restrictions on how customers could use the SkyClubs for Delta members. In principle, members could only visit a SkyClub up to three hours before their departing flight and could not visit again once they reached their destination.

You may be thinking ‘I don’t care, this has nothing to do with me’, and if you’ve never been to a SkyClub, you’re at least partially right. But I think there is a valuable lesson in this story. Let me explain:

The change, and the way Delta rolled it out, didn’t go down well. Unsurprisingly, when people pay for something and a company makes a change that makes them feel like the thing they paid for is less valuable, it usually doesn’t make them happy.

The two main ways to access Delta’s SkyClubs are usually paying for an annual membership or having a credit card with a high annual fee that offers access as a benefit. There are a few other options. For example, Delta’s highest frequent flyer status offers the option to select a membership as a benefit.

That means the people most likely to be affected by the change are also Delta’s best customers. Even if you make a change with the best of intentions, it’s generally not a great business move to upset your most valuable customers.

In this case, many of those customers contacted Delta and expressed their frustration. Delta declined to say how many customers sent feedback about the change, but it was enough to grab the company’s attention.

As a result, Delta seems to have changed her mind. Yeah, sort of. It cut half of the change — the part about using a SkyClub when you arrive at your destination — but kept the part about limiting access to three hours before your flight.

Here’s how Claude Roussel, the director of Delta’s SkyClubs, explained it to customers in an email:

Last week we announced updates to our Delta Sky Club admission policy with the intent to enhance your experience during the busy summer months. We’ve heard your feedback in response to the updates, including some customers wanting to visit a club to refresh after landing or recharge before a meeting.

We value your input – and we acted on it. As today, customers with Delta Sky Club access can continue to use Clubs upon arrival.

In this case, it’s actually a significant change. If you’re used to taking a red-eye flight to the East Coast for a day of meetings, you may have paid for a SkyClub membership so you have a place to take a quick shower before heading off to a day of meetings. goes. After all, if your flight lands at 6:30 AM, you won’t be able to check into a hotel to freshen up.

Besides, you know how to tell if a company really “values ​​your input?” The next four words: “we acted upon it.”

To Delta’s credit, the airline is listening to feedback. The brilliance of his response is that he is willing to change something. That’s the lesson here. Sometimes you have to be willing to listen to your customers, swallow your pride, admit you made a mistake and do the right thing.

“Your feedback remains vital to our continued success in delivering an enhanced experience,” Roussel wrote. “As we see more and more volumes in our clubs, we are working hard to support our service teams and add more ambassadors to ensure the best Delta Sky Club experience you have come to expect and deserve.”

Look, you can understand why Delta made the change. The reality was that SkyClubs got pretty busy. In some cases, the company turned people away because the lounges were already overcrowded. That’s not a great experience, and Delta made a good faith effort to resolve that issue.

My point, however, was that if you make it really easy for people to access your ultra-exclusive club, you create a lot of demand and it starts to feel, well, less exclusive. The solution shouldn’t be to make the thing you sold less valuable to your best customers.

This does not only apply to airlines. It applies to any company. Focus on doing the right thing for your customers. If you get pushback, ask yourself if the problem you’re creating is bigger than the problem you’re trying to solve. If so, it’s best to step back and do the next good thing for your customers.

The opinions expressed here by businesstraverse.com columnists are their own, not businesstraverse.com’s.