Over on the Hunch blog, the results of 32,000 survey responses regarding peoples preferences for window or aisle seats on flights have been dissected. From a seemingly simple question, Hunch was able to draw conclusions about the socio-economic factors that come into play when determining preference with regards airplane seating – to summarize the findings, Hunch tells us that:

  • Window choosers are more likely to be younger, female, shorter, and more casual than their aisle compatriots. They’re also more likely to be into nature (makes sense) and enjoy camping. In general, though, they are not particularly well-traveled — yet — and they enjoy the comforts of home. They admit that they can be ‘bed hogs’, which is why you might find them encroaching on your space with their carry-ons or reading material. They are also less plugged in (technically) than the aisle types, although they enjoy reading and are more likely to visit a real brick and mortar bookstore. (Remember those?)
  • Aisle choosers mean business. They are more likely to be older, male, taller, more educated, dressed up, and with higher incomes than window gazers. They are likely to have an AMEX card, a valid passport, and premier status on at least one airline. They likely subscribe to several magazines and are more likely to stick to one side of the bed at night (but perhaps only because someone else is also more likely to be on the other side).

The article is an interesting read, and worth five minutes of your time for entertainment value. But for those who spend their time wondering about ways to generate the highest levels of customer satisfaction, there are some interesting insights we can gain from the post.

First and foremost is that people want choice. Choice to chose the approach that best suits them and choice to change solutions based on situations.We’ve written in the past about some people preference for automated call centers versus speaking to a real person. We’ve looked at automatic voice recognition versus a “push this number for…” approach.

Swinging back to the “aisle vs. window” question – I’m a perfect example of a desire for choice. When travelling to new locales I’ll generally choose a window seat to have a bit of a look at the scenery. For short domestic flights it’s aisle every time. For long hauls, it’s aisle for exit row or window otherwise – you’ll see that I have several different situations that determine my preference, add to this the fact that I’m a random sort of a guy who sometimes mixes things up for fun, and you can see that any prescriptive approach just simply won’t work.

Customer service situations are the same. Think of any setting – hospitality, retail, service-based – it’s a safe bet that your preference for how service is delivered; be it personalized or automatic, on-line or off, leisurely or short and sweet, depends much on the situation you’re in and the million little contextual details behind that situation.

So for those whose work revolves around providing for interactions with customers, don’t lose sight of the fact that everyone is different, engineer choice into your processes and make sure you can meet everyone’s needs – window seaters, aisle seaters and everyone in-between.

Illustration courtesy of Hunch Blog.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

Leave a Reply