Coach lands on the runway…

“Coach lands on the runway at exactly the same time as first class.” — Steve Jobs

Delta gave me first class upgrade today.  I went from 8B to 2C.  Past the curtain and in to an entirely “other” flight.  It was sweet.

There are two flights happening during every flight.  The first flight, the coach flight, is a jam packed mess.  The second flight, the first class flight, is nearly effortless.  That’s how the airlines want it.  That’s how they stack the deck.  First class travellers pay their bills.  Once they have a taste for first class service model they keep coming back.

We all arrived at exactly the same time this afternoon.  One big flying can full of people who want nothing more that to just get “there” and then get back home.  Yet we all had one of two experiences: Calm or calamity.

A curtain makes all of the difference.

The differences between coach and first class are simultaneously slight and significant.  A thin curtain between Us and Them symbolizes the divide between ease and strain.  A tumbler for your drink rather than a childish plastic cup.  A slightly wider seat as opposed to the elbow knocking turf wars that happen in coach.  First class snacks are marginally better, but marginal at best.  The differences fractional.

Here’s the real difference: a first class ticket (depending on destination and the time that the ticket is booked) will cost you significantly more.  Perceived value has a tremendous psychological, behavioral, and financial impact.  People willingly pay more for a first class ticket because of the perceived value and the small, subtle ways that the airlines makes a person feel…well…special.  In retail situations, customers who feel that they are gaining more than they’re sacrificing they will typically take action.

The question that every business owner and sales manager and sales person and installer and administrator and service technician needs to ask is simple: “Are you selling a first class ticket and delivering first class service? (nuanced as it is) or are you selling a coach ticket and delivering coach service?”

Any retail sales organization who is ready to stop battling price objections needs to honestly (and I mean non-cliched “our people are our difference” honesty)First+Class+Lounge evaluate the quality of the ticket that they’re selling.  Moreover, the quality of service that accompanies the ticket price.

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