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Great brands rock because they succeed at providing exceptional customer experiences and satisfaction. Great brands also rock because they succeed at convincing customers that the value provided is greater than the price charged. But what happens to that brand when it “nickels and dimes” its satisfied customers to almost laughable extremes? And what would you choose to do — abandon the brand, or accept the pocket-change-mentality surcharging?
Case in point: AirTran Airways.
You may disagree with me (and you probably will), but I love AirTran. They satisfy my business travel schedule with more non-stop flights. Their fares are low. Their online reservations process is a breeze. Their online ticketing process the same. Their fleets are new and clean. Their flight attendants are generally very positive. And heck (depending on whether you think it’s a plus or a minus), they were the first to market with in-flight internet.
But here’s the nickel and dime rub, and it’s moved beyond luggage. In my experience, there exists not one seat on any AirTran flight that doesn’t come with a surcharge. Front, rear, aisle, window, middle, exit row, within sniffing distance of the lavatories, it doesn’t matter — now that you’ve booked your flight, you get to pay again to sit down. And last I checked, sitting down is mandatory on U.S. air travel.
I applaud AirTran’s ability to get away with this and still not really irritate me. It speaks volumes for their brand’s overall positive experience, satisfaction and price-value relationship. That’s a goal every brand should strive to achieve regardless of pricing structure. But what would you choose — to reward the exceptional brand that is all about money (so to speak), or abandon ship?
SOURCE: NOISE, John Sprecher
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