How a Business Trip Can Improve Your Own Business

Table of Contents

    On my last business trip, I start using Evernote (again) to see if things have improved with the app since I last used it. I attempt to write a new blog about my trip experience to test it out.

    I wake up at 6:15 am and call UBER, which arrives 20 minutes later as planned, keeping me informed of their progress towards my location on the map. I notice the driver started the trip when he accepted the fare. I approach him when I get into the car and am told that is the normal process. Poor customer service – he lies about procedures and pricing, making him untrustworthy. I was going to argue, but decide against it as I have to get my train.

    I get to the train station at 6:50 am and demand a refund via the UBER app. Typically, I pay 16-18 euros for this ride, but the driver charged me 33 euros. I receive a notification 10 minutes later that UBER refunded me 27 euros, making the trip worth 6 euros. Ups and downs… or rather downs and ups. They offered great after sale customer support by resolving my issue and restoring my faith, but I hope that it doesn’t set the tone for this trip. I hope that UBER does something about that driver as well.

    I decide to get a coffee and a croissant. Nothing is open. I wait until 7:00 am, but still nothing is open. Perhaps it’s because it’s a Sunday? Still, it is a central train station and there are a few large tourist groups around. They are losing business, especially for a coffee place (morning = coffee) – poor operational hours and focus.

    I need to go to the washroom. As with most washrooms in France, you have to pay 50 cents or so to use them. I have no coins, so I hand the person 5 euros only to be told they cannot give change and to go get change somewhere else – poor customer service and some things should just be free.

    The train announces boarding time at 7:16 am and I’m on board. Another announcement at 7:19 am has the train departing right on time. Punctuality and meeting your timelines – things are looking up!

    My drawing of a train using my finger on my iPhone.

    I arrive at the Paris CDG airport on time and walk to the check-in counters. I am ready with my carry on and my pre-printed board pass and passport. So why do I have to queue up again? Not sure. I go to the counter and the person prints an exact replica of my boarding pass I printed the night before. This is wasted time and resources on a useless step designed to effectively add no value and increase costs. Process fail for unclear rules and processes.

    Someone leaves unattended luggage by the border control area, which means a 20 minute delay. However, I am lucky to be one of the first in line before they close it, so when it re-opens, I breeze through border control and bag check! First in – first out.

    Bag check is a waste of time, and I’m told to take my belt off. I go through with no alarms even though my watch and shoes stay on. It’s always a different “thing” depending on the day, the airport and the staff, making for a lack of clear, consistent, logical policies.

    I find my gate and have a great coffee place right beside it! I purchase a cappuccino and a juice. Location. Location. Location.

    With a 10:40 am departure, I am still at the gate. I have about six hours of work ahead of me, but I’m not really willing to pull my laptop out since they will ask me to put it away as soon as we are taking off. But, when will that be? It’s now 10:46 am and we are still at the gate not moving. Communication – or rather lack of communication – and not keeping your time.

    It’s 10:50 am and the pilot comes out stating that we will be late due to something or other. I am sure it’s a valid reason. It’s not too bad, except I still don’t know if I’m looking at a five minute or 50 minute delay. My laptop stays in the bag for now; my iPhone suffices. Setting expectations is important even if you buffer or put assumptions around them.

    Another great rendition by yours truly entitled “Me in a Plane.”

    The Flight takes off with an hour delay, but other than that, it is a very wonderful and quiet trip. The service in business class is much better than in economy. Customer segmentation is clear.

    Another process fail happens at the next airport during my transfer. I have to pick up my bag only to put it through again 100 ft. later. I go through security again, and this time, the shoes come off but the laptop can stay in the bag. Somehow, my watch and belt are okay too. I don’t think anyone cares or knows why these things are necessary and nobody asks anymore. It’s easier that way I guess, for fear of being held back for complaining. Paying customers with no alternate solutions feel this type of desperation at times, but eventually they will leave anyway, or in my case stop travelling as much. Listen to your customers and feel their frustrations.

    I have a great experience at the rental car station where they upgrade my car for free! They have a fairly easy booking process, invoice by email, and all is good. They use technology to really make things easy for the customer, and the counter person makes a huge difference.

    Vroom, vroom! Am I getting better at drawing on the iPhone or is it just my impression?

    Lessons Learned

    Business trips are expensive. They take time from your core business activities, but they give you valuable lessons you can apply in your own business. In most cases, you are at the mercy of the airline, driver, security, border control people, and even the staff handling your luggage or checking you in. There is no sale anymore – you purchase your tickets beforehand so there is very little you can do, and most of the people delivering the service you purchased don’t work for the company you actually purchased your ticket from anyway. Before this, you may have been able to get away with haggling with a person and getting cheap train tickets, but now everything is done beforehand and it’s productized.

    This is what makes travelling an ideal opportunity to re-examine how you would have preferred to be treated as a customer and how you react to the different ups and downs. Satisfied customers represent more revenue.

    Next time you have a happy or irate customer, travel in their shoes, if you will. Remember the last time you had those experiences and learn from them to ensure you can repeat the positive ones and eliminate the negative ones. As Bill Gates said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” 

    I would like to finish with this last amazing piece of art:

    I’m back home!

    #Happy Dashboarding Everyone!