Prompting praise

It is one of those maxims that it is easier to criticise than to praise.  Easier to complain about something going wrong rather than thank someone for something going right.    I’m sure this bedevils the travel industry more than most.   We forget about all the things that go right and focus on the failures.  Motivated to see redress for our inconvenience.   Sure, sometimes we think about emailing praise but all too often by the time we have retrieved our luggage this is a distant memory.

But perhaps that is all about to change.  On Tuesday I received a letter from British Airways containing a “Golden Ticket”.  A credit card-sized bit of card which I’m meant to pass to any BA employee who has been responsible for ensuring I  “enjoy a level of service that (I) would like to experience more often.”.     It’s about positive reinforcement and I think it may just work – they allude to a trial last year so the facts must speak for themselves.

Two things spring to mind;

(1) It places a bit of pressure on the customer.   Although the letter states I’ll get another card later in the year it does place a lot of value on this one card.    When do I know I’ve hit the heights of service compared to the experience I have not yet had ?

(2) It’s a physical reminder that one should praise and thank more often.    This is not just about the employee it’s about the traveller.   The card is the talisman you might not be prepared to use but perhaps might be the catalyst to thank a little bit more in person – which in some respects is much more rewarding than whatever benefit BA (they don’t say) give to the employee who receives these tickets.


So I’ve just tried it out – on the BA Exec Club telephone line as I pulled my rebooked flight to JFK forward to tomorrow morning (today’s flight prematurely cancelled because of pending snow).     The agent was polite, interested, fully engaged and managed to deliver on my request.   I thought to myself “is this outstanding” ?    No.  It was good and all in the line of her job.   She got effusive thanks instead.

For now the card is tucked in my wallet.  Maybe I’ll use it tomorrow…and maybe not.

It’s a good idea.

PS  The devil in me would like to suggest a  universal “black spot” for use in the face of equally poor service and I don’t just mean with BA.  Anywhere.     I’m all in favour of ‘carrot’ but sometimes a bit of ‘stick’ does the trick !


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