I don’t get this. United’s red carpet

Coming back from Minneapolis last night, I fell into conversation with a couple waiting to board our plane about the red carpet and roped aisles United Airlines implemented awhile back for 1K and super-duper-executive-mileage types. The lady remarked how silly it seemed and the gentleman said: “How did they ever explain THAT in a meeting.”

EXACTLY what I was thinking. It’s such a strange thing to route some folks one way (across a red carpet) and all the rest of us the other way.

When I got back, I searched a bit and found this:

United’s Red Carpet at Pragmatic Marketing. The whole post reflects what can happen in libraries:

United is now offering Red Carpet service at the airport. “Premier” customers go across the red carpet; “regular” customers don’t. Does this seem silly to anyone else? None of the premier customers think it’s special but it’s somewhat likely to offend the regular ones. And it’s so clearly an afterthought because there isn’t adequate room in the gate area for the special aisle.

This is why “user interface” is a phrase that usability experts despise. The implication is that you can slap a UI onto an existing product to make it user-friendly. Did some marketer at United say, “Our customer satisfaction will go up if we throw a red carpet on the floor.” The red carpet doesn’t make a better experience and its clearly not integrated with the reality of the gate area.

While I’m on the subject, are your marketing programs in sync with your operational realities? How often does your marketing department have a great idea that can’t be implemented or that generate the wrong results? Do you generate leads even though sales people don’t want them?

What’s so frustrating is the silo nature of the typical organization, the disconnect between development, marketing, sales, and others. As a product manager, you should step back from your daily grind at look at the whole product experience through the eyes of buyers and users. Is it integrated? Or merely a disconnected set of parts?

Add this to the conversations playing out about user experience in libraries. Are silos in the way? Yes, in some places. Are there disconnects? Of course. How can we fix them?

Disclaimer: I am a Red Carpet Club card carrying member of Mileage Plus at the Executive Premier level. I enjoy upgrades just like most folks and there’s nothing better than getting away from the airport hubbub in the RCC (with a Fresca!).