Naga Chokkanathan

Why Not? — Future Customers

Posted on: March 26, 2010

Last week I was in an airport, where there was a shortage of baggage scanning machines. As a result, almost every machine was shared by two or three airlines.

Let us say my ticket was with Airline X, and I went to its scanning machine. It was shared with Airline Y also.

As I approached the machine with a heavy luggage in hand, two people came forward to help me. First one asked, ‘Which airline sir?’

I answered ‘Airline X’. Immediately, his face changed, he swiftly moved away from me, letting the other guy help me.

Obviously, the person who spoke to me is from Airline Y. So, I am not their customer, he is not paid to help me.

But if seen from another angle, I may be their potential (future) customer. Now this incident has gone in my mind permanently, because I felt that person ignored me, even insulted me by offering to help me and then turning away. It may be illogical and even stupid, But as a customer, that’s how I felt!

When this whole episode happened, the airport was practically deserted. There were not many people using this particular scanner machine, so the gentleman from Airline Y cannot justify his action by saying ‘I was busy with my present customers, how can I take care of a future customer?’. He had time (after all moving a luggage on top of the scanner machine is going to take 10 seconds maximum), and a chance to win some points with a potential future customer and lost it. That’s it.

The fact is, Businesses are no more dependent on current customers. If there are no future customers, they can as well close the shop! This means, we can’t afford to miss even a single chance to make an impression on a potential future customer, Even if they are currently using our rival’s products / services, it is worth servicing them with a smile!



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