Having experienced first hand in the last couple of days some of the challenges experienced by hapless travellers, I have a few pet peeves with the airline industry that are applicable to IT…
1. Why is it that when a flight is cancelled, you can get more responsiveness from a remote telephone reservations agent than a local ticketing agent at the airport? I was able to re-book my cancelled flight via the telephone in 2 minutes while other less fortunate passengers were at the mercy of a ticketing agent who could not seem to complete one re-booking in twice that time. Consistency is key – whether your customers are dealing with your IT staff via phone, e-mail or in person, the message and degree of responsiveness needs to be medium-neutral.
2. Set expectations regarding regular status updates and be prepared to increase the frequency of communication when things start to go wrong. Flight delays due to weather are par for the course, but when you are sitting at the gate (or worse, on the tarmac) waiting for clearance to take off, it would be nice if the flight crew would give regular updates at scheduled intervals, even if there was nothing new to report. Project or operational activities should follow the same practice – establish standard frequencies for regular or routine communication and increase and focus these communications in times of crisis.
3. Tailor the message to the audience – very few of us know the real difference between an altitude of 10,000 and 33,000 feet. From my perspective, either height is high enough to kill you. Why increase the “signal:noise” ratio by communicating such information when there is so much more useful information that could be communicated from the cockpit? I liken this to the tendency to use “techno-babble” when communicating with your customers – it adds little value to their day.
4. More for vendors than for internal IT departments: standardize policies & procedures wherever there is no benefit in specializing/customizing. Why do some airlines allow you to use wireless devices the moment a plane touches down while others insist that you avoid this activity until the engines are off and the seat belt sign is extinguished? Surely the same electronic equipment does not vary drastically from one company’s airplane to another one’s?
Whether in IT or in airlines, consistency & communication are key.