Contact Joan Fox
Customer Loyalty Expert & Consultant


Service Matters Blog

The Customer Experience Dilemma


The New CX Buzz

We even have a text worthy abbreviation for it now–CX as customer experience. We’ve arrived all together at the conclusion that the customer’s experience is what we want to manage. We’ve stopped talking about customer service. Improving the customer experience is the thing today. We speak about it generally as if it was always a good thing for all customers. But the reality is that there can be a downside for some customers when improving the experience of another customer segment.

Last year Delta Airlines changed the Sky Club experience with notably improved  food selections throughout the day, furniture upgrades and most importantly a return to a more serene atmosphere. You see, Sky Clubs had become overcrowded to the point of insufficient seating. Children ran back and forth from the buffet consisting of very limited choices and the place was downright noisy. Instead of thinking, “I’m so glad I can be in the Sky Club for this two hour wait,” the average member was thinking, “I wonder if I will be able to find a place to sit and work.”

The Negative Effect of Rule Relaxation:

In an effort to improve the customer experience, Delta with good intentions relaxed the rules and  allowed even members with individual memberships to bring their entire families into the club.  Personally, I brought my family of six into the club on several occasions. The ultimate effect was a customer experience reduction for the rest of the members. Purchasers driven by the promise of a quiet, comfortable environment were faced with the actual circumstance of an environment similar to the one in the terminal.

The Changes:

In addition to the increased fees, today there is a strict enforcement of the rules. I’ve tried on several occasions to bring my spouse into the club and was met with an invitation to upgrade my membership or pay the daily fee for him.

The Effect:

The sheer number of  people in the lounges has decreased. The food is better with more options. It is quieter. It seems cleaner. It is the respite I desire while traveling. I am happier. My customer experience is better. However, some customers are unhappy. They long for the day when Delta did not enforce its rules. So the question begs, “What experience do you want to provide?” Do you want to offer an experience that is okay for all or one that is exceptional for some? There is no right answer. It is simply a choice. It depends on your ultimate goal. How exclusive do you want your experience to be?

Now if they could just do something about the guy pacing back and forth in front of me while talking loudly on his cell phone–should the customer experience be managed to that level? Hmmm…. I wonder.