Last Friday I flew back to London from JFK on a Virgin Atlantic flight. The security line at JFK was so long it extended beyond the miles of the formal, snaking queuing system. I dutifully joined the end of the line and began talking with a couple of ladies who were also flying to London.

When we reached the start of the formal queuing system the member of staff looked at my boarding pass, saw that I had a business class ticket, and pointed me in the direction of the “express” lane. Saying goodbye to the women I skipped off down the empty lane.

Thirty minutes later, having joined a queue of no more than ten people that went absolutely nowhere (apart from allowing cabin crew and disabled passengers through), I saw the two women waving to me as they finally reached passport control and the security checks.  The lone person checking the “express” lane boarding cards was so slow he was in serious danger of fossilisation if he’d carried on much longer.

In the end I was able to persuade the agency staff to dedicate a second person to the “express” lane, but, even so, it was a further thirty minutes of frustration before I was finally through security.

When I went to share my frustration with the Virgin Atlantic team at their lounge, they simply shrugged their shoulders, said they knew about it and told me there was nothing they could do – even though I had eventually managed to get a second person involved.

If you’re delivering an added value service, product or experience, the quality of that experience is only as good as the worst element – whether or not that’s under your direct control. Many passengers were letting the staff know that they’d be using BA next time, and if only half followed through with that threat Virgin Atlantic would be missing out on £000s of income.

So, what’s the weakest element of your customer journey and what are you specifically doing to ensure that each element of the experience enhances – rather than reduces – the satisfaction and loyalty of your customers?

© Stuart Cross 2012. All rights reserved.