NPS Blog

The problem with pasta on a plane

It’s a long flight from the US to Singapore, where Bain recently held its fourth annual Asia-Pacific Loyalty Forum. And as it happens, on that trip, one of the attendees of the Forum had an experience that illustrates an important and all-too-common issue.

While in Singapore, I recorded a podcast with two long-time loyalty leaders―Brian Andrews, a former vice president at Intuit, and Linda Verba, head of service strategy at TD Bank―who were kind enough to sit down with me for a chat. Brian mentioned that on his flight, a deeply apologetic flight attendant had told him that all the other meals had run out and she could only offer him pasta.

It seems someone at the airline’s headquarters figured out the company could save money if the number of meals loaded on the plane exactly matched the number of passengers on board. The airline played the odds on how many people would ask for beef or chicken and then stocked exactly that number on the plane. The problem: The pennies saved on those meals came at the cost of an embarrassed employee and a potential insult to a business-class customer, who had paid a steep price for his ticket.

Fortunately for the flight attendant, she had found an understanding customer in Brian. He ate the plate of pasta and shared the lesson at the Loyalty Forum. To hear more about his “Where’s the beef?” experience, listen to the podcast at 28:30 (the second part of our two-part series with Brian and Linda).

You can listen to our discussion on iTunes or through the player below. Click here to browse more Net Promoter System podcasts.

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