How Hard is it to Make Your Customers Happy?

How often do you make your customers happy? Hopefully, you’ve savored exceeding a customer’s expectations more than once. But there are also times when it doesn’t matter what we do, there’s just no making that customer even remotely satisfied. And it gets really complicated when businesses have customers with conflicting needs.

Rob Mark (@jetwhine on Twitter) recently shared a great example of an industry with conflicting customer needs: airlines.


Stockholders (in this case, internal customers) demand a growing return on their investment. Partakers of this service clamor for cleaner air inside the plane, lower ticket prices, on-time departures/arrivals, and more comfortable seating.

As a person of generous dimensions, I intensely dislike flying – because I always feel like I’m encroaching on my neighbor’s space. In fact, one passenger that had the misfortune of being seated next to me demanded to be moved to another seat because he wasn’t going to sit next to a “fat woman” (which he proclaimed loud enough for all the passengers to hear). The whole plane was held captive until this man got what he wanted. The very petite, compassionate woman next to me said, “Move over into part of my seat, honey, and ignore him.” I relived that moment went actor Kevin Smith (@ThatKevinSmith) got thrown off a plane because he was “too fat.” In spite of all the evidence that America’s girth is expanding, airplane seats are becoming increasingly small.

How do you suggest airlines give both their internal and external customers what they want? Dare we think it is possible to exceed these customers’ expectations?

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