Earlier this month, I was on a transcontinental Delta flight to Seattle for a last minute meeting with a prospective client. With recent snow storms affecting travel, I was glad to have a seat, even if it was the middle seat at the back of the plane. After all, each seat – even in economy – has a state-of-the-art touchscreen with access to 18 channels of live satellite TV, 250 movies, hundreds of TV shows, 2,300 songs and games.

Seated in front of me was a woman and her husband looking forward to heading home after a trip to see their grandchildren. She settled into her seat (yes, that is actually a picture of her) and began playing a game of cards on the screen in front of her. Or, at least she tried to.

Soon she got frustrated with the touch screen. She tapped at the screen a few times, not certain what she had done to make it work the first time. She thought it might have been fingerprints on her screen; so she pulled out some wipes and meticulously wiped the screen down. Tap, tap, tap. No luck – it seemed to be jinxed. She’d give up for a bit, then try again. About 50 minutes into the flight, it seemed as though she had figured it out – if she touched the screen with her fingernail, or a straw, the screen seemed to respond.

As I looked around, I noticed a number of people who were going through that same struggle – how to get the touchscreen to work. If indeed it was a straw that made the system work, a simple knowledge-sharing technique could have saved people on that flight (and the people on 140 domestic Delta planes equipped with the high-tech system flying multiple flights each day) a lot of frustration. And, Delta’s executives could have gotten the most out of the multi-million dollar investment in technology.

Here’s how.

If the first flight attendant that found the solution shared it with the passengers via an announcement, that would have spared other passengers on that flight combined hours of frustration. If Delta then had a simple way to share this insight with Flight Operations so it became part of every flight attendant’s welcome-aboard message, that could have saved thousands of passenger hours of frustration per day. All that savings without fancy technology or heavy processes.

In fact, that’s the secret of knowledge sharing. When people want to share information, and it becomes part of how they do their job, then amazing things happen.

Knowledge sharing is a set of behaviors, supported by defined practices, enabled by technology. And, sometimes the best solution doesn’t involve technology at all. Simple techniques yield powerful results. Each and every time.

Delta does seem to listen to the voice of the customer. Tim Mapes, senior VP of marketing said, “Delta continues to be driven by customer feedback, which has consistently placed the desire to be entertained at the top of the list of ways to improve our customers’ time in the air.”

If they went beyond the voice of the customer and focused on the customer experience, they would find that enabling employees to want to share knowledge and make it part of how they did their job would reap dividends. Immediately. Over and over again.

Now isn’t that something every executive could get their head around? Augment customer experience and employee engagement with knowledge sharing. Today.

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