Published in Aviation

Have Dog, Can Travel

Lessons for engaging customer feedback programs from an international flight

I recently traveled from India to the United States on Lufthansa Airlines with my dog Zuri. She was going to be alone for almost 24 hours, traveling in the cargo hold. I had a sinking feeling when I kissed her goodbye before our journey.

Fortunately, the trip ended up being an excellent experience for us, with a number of little things that made me smile throughout the trip. Our check-in agent assured me, “we’ll take care of her.” The dog handlers in India met me at the jet-bridge before the 10-hour leg to Frankfurt with reassurances. The cargo guy in Frankfurt told me, “your hund [dog in German] is doing great.”

Lufthansa successfully delivered a personal and memorable experience, and transformed me into a lifetime promoter.


Unfortunately, the post-flight survey I received from Lufthansa was bland and it showed none of the caring and personal brand I had appreciated during the flight.

Here are a few proven ways brands can make the feedback experience a natural and reinforcing part of the overall experience:

1. Know your customer

In a connected world where systems can finally “play well together,” it’s becoming easier for us to get to the data, powered by top-tier technology providers making APIs, connectors, and widgets available to the outside world for seamless data integration.

For customer feedback programs, the direction is clear: infuse your email invitations and other survey content with information about your customers’ prior experience to personalize the interaction. This information can also be used to reduce survey length and deepen insights.

Here are some examples, good and bad, based on my flight information below:

Here’s the first part of one of Lufthansa’s follow-up emails:

And an example of transforming an email greeting and personalizing it further:

Dear Tulsi,

We hope your pet is doing well after the long journey. Could you tell us a little about your trip and how we might improve the experience?


Dear Tulsi,

We hope you enjoyed the special meal we served on your most recent flight to Frankfurt. Could you tell us a little about your trip and how we might improve the experience?

 Do you see the difference? The first example, from Lufthansa, was well-written and professional. But the more personal emails talked about my experience, and that’s what I’m really interested in, and what the company is really interested in hearing about.

 2. Voice and Tone


Paying close attention to voice and tone is another way that customer-obsessed organizations can increase engagement. To do so, put yourself in the shoes of your customer. How would you like to be spoken to?

Most email invitations and surveys read like a textbook – far from the brand and personal touch one experiences from the company.

Create a map of emotions you would like to elicit, and use this to assess how you are wording your invitations, survey questions, and answers. Be succinct, use simple language and common terms, and most of all be friendly and approachable.

A short while ago I stumbled upon the Emotional Labor plugin for Chrome & Gmail. This happy little plugin injects exclamations and smiley faces into your emails, and makes some word replacements that change the tone of the message. Give it a try 🙂

3. Reiterate your brand beyond the “branding”

Many of us have probably played a Logo Quiz online or on our phones. It’s evident from the traction of Logo Quiz that we engage with brands through their logos. However, the brand is much more than just a logo. As Kate Motsinger puts it in her post about brand equity,

Your brand is everything that your logo stands for: your story, your heart, your soul, your commitment to customers.”

Take Dyson, for example, a brand we all remember. Yes, we remember their logo. But we recognize them more for innovation, simplicity, and ease of use. It finally comes back to an emotional connection.

Customers remember your organization for the core values it represents. You can capitalize on this brand affinity to inspire trustworthiness, thereby encouraging people to open an email invitation and provide feedback.

‘Communicating the brand’ involves the logo, the color, the fonts, and the message. Many organizations have published visual design guidelines. One way to start is to reuse these design guidelines and include images from the website to tell a story, then create shared themes across feedback channels.

4. Use a holistic approach

Your customer is engaging with your organization across many channels: from web to social media, mobile app to brick-and-mortar store, and across business units.  Implementing an omnichannel feedback program and listening across every touchpoint of the customer journey will help you to create a holistic view of the customer and to act on feedback more personally.

To create this holistic view, begin by defining a cohesive customer journey – this would include all interactions the customer has with your organization (across channels and business units). Knowing about existing feedback programs can provide insight into creating a consistent experience, preventing repetitive questions, and decreasing the number of surveys. Shorter and fewer surveys tend to increase the response rates, prevent respondent fatigue, and allow respondents to answer more honestly.

5. Finally, show that you are listening

We are jaded with the number of surveys we fill out and disillusioned with the feeling that they are landing in a black hole somewhere. When customers feel that their feedback is appreciated, they feel more engaged with the company and are more likely to respond.

Demonstrating that your organization is listening might include incorporating feedback from a previous survey wave to personalize the survey, sending a thank you note after the survey, or simply picking up the phone to chat with the customer.

Showing your customers that you are listening can help ensure recurring responses from the same customer. This can increase the overall response rate and improves the holistic customer view.

Hey there!

On Mar 21st you told us about the “Lack of yellow products” in our store. Well, we’re writing to say we’ve changed some things around. What did you think of the store when you visited us recently on May 25th?


In closing, here’s a collection of some ideas for engaging email invitations. Hope these provide ideas and inspiration for your next feedback program!

Thanks for reading!!!!

Tulsi (@tulsid)