Communication Lessons from Spring Break

Spring Break is over but the
lessons learned are still fresh. 
My family was headed home from San Francisco when I tried to check-in
online with our airline.  No luck.

Our reservations were on
Midwest Airlines, which is now operated by Frontier Airlines, thanks to
industry consolidation. The computer systems from both airlines do not seem to
communicate well with each other, so everyone was forced to check-in at the
airport.  While the airline
personnel were friendly, in an online age this manual check-in process seemed
prehistoric.Suitcase

The communication problem
turned up again when the flight was delayed, making my connection out of Denver
dicey.  Again, no one could tell us
about the connecting flight because the computer systems were not
compatible.  The systems simply
could not share timely, relevant information about scheduling or delays.

Compare this to my experience
at the Apple Store.  When I set out
for my vacation, I soon realized that while I remembered my computer, I forgot
my power cord.  No problem…I
figured I’d just find a nearby Apple store and buy a new one.  The problem was I needed a new cord on
the day that the new iPad arrived in the stores.  Lines for the new device stretched all the way down Market
Street.

Trying to avoid waiting in
line for hours, I found an Apple employee at the front of the line and
explained that I only wanted a replacement power cord for my laptop. She
efficiently paged someone inside the store who greeted me with the requested
item outside the store, was able to swipe my credit card with a portable
terminal, and the transaction was completed in less than two minutes.

Communication is key in all
business relationships.  Mergers
and acquisitions, new product launches and unplanned events are normal business
occurrences.  Good planning to make
sure that communication breakdowns are eliminated—or at least minimized—sets
apart the winners from the losers.

–Linda Muskin

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