I was traveling yesterday.

After landing, my co-traveling friend found his suitcase on the conveyer belt with a sticker attached to it:

Sticker reads: ‘damaged bagage’

The sticker reads: ‘damaged baggage’ (note: the Spanish above it reads something along the lines of: ‘received in this state’)

Apparently the handle of the suitcase broke off during bagage loading, hence the sticker that was put on it shortly after. What’s ironic about this, is that the sticker’s material is paper based, making it very hard to rip it off in 1 piece – thus leaving more damage behind on the suitcase! If that’s not ironic anymore, I don’t know what it is.

What this (very simple) event shows us, is that you always have to test your idea, product or service. Probably, the conversation at Interjet went something like this:

Customer service manager: ‘we had some complaints about damaged goods and luggage last year. To avoid discussion, we should inspect any damages upfront and notify travellers we spotted those damages beforehand’

Marketing Manager: ‘that’s a great idea, that way we avoid pointless back-and-forth discussions about Interjet’s involvement. But how are we going to do this? I’ll have a my team find a cheap, easy and simple and solution.’

Team member: ‘what about a sticker?’

Marketing manager: ‘Love it! I knew I could trust you, Jorge. Let’s do it! Order 10000 stickers that say: damaged baggage. It’s cheap, simple and effective.’

(2 weeks later) Team member: ‘Boss! The stickers arrived. You want to check them out first and test them?’

Marketing manager: ‘no that’s fine Jorge. Just start putting them on the suitcases, I got other stuff to do right now.’

Although the marketing manager should have paid a bit more attention to the effects of using this type of sticker, he’s not 100% to blame. A quick twitter search hardly shows any results containing ‘interjet’ and ‘sticker’. What does this tell us? That people don’t complain, nor provide feedback about this problem (which my co-traveller didn’t either, by the way).

This is not a surprise:

  • Only 1 out of 26 unsatisfied customers, actually complain (source)
  • Yet, negative news reaches more people than positive news about a service.
  • Moreover, this takes 12 positive experiences to make up for 1 bad one (source)

What can we learn from this?

  1. Test and validate your product, idea, concept or whatever you’re making – even if it’s as simple as putting a sticker on a suitcase.
  2. Stimulate people to provide feedback to ensure you hear back from unsatisfying experiences so that you’re not left in the dark about problems that can be fixed easily.

That being sad, I do see a lot of improvement at airports globally, by the introduction of the exit poll-feedback buttons, which offers a simple and very fast way to test and validate service improvements (although this still wouldn’t solve our sticky-sticker problem):

Exit poll feedback buttons