The plane is delayed. You’re the pilot. How do you keep your passengers happy?

In the ‘90s, British Airways discovered an anomaly in their customer approval ratings.

When a flight was delayed, their ratings would go up.

Odd. You’d think punctuality was important to people.

So BA looked into why this was happening.

When the plane was delayed, the captain would speak to the passengers over the intercom.

Firstly, he would apologise for the delay in the first person.

Then he would explain that it was due to air traffic control.

Finally, he used the first person singular to take responsibility for fixing the situation.

We apologise for the delay. Air traffic control have asked us to wait here, but I’ve managed to get us to the front of the queue, so it won’t be much longer.’

He didn’t attempt to distance himself from the issue by using zombie nouns (‘…due to a scheduling management issue…’).

Instead, he used verbs.

He was a figure of authority taking charge of the problem in plain and simple English. A Captain living up to his title. The kind of person you want to be flying this plane.

If you want to improve your NPS scores and customer satisfaction, a customer dissatisfaction might be just the opportunity you’ve been waiting for. It all depends on the language you use.

Recently, Southwest Airlines have taken this a step further with their safety announcements. If you’re interested in improving your customer experience, email Chris.