René Seifert

Entrepreneur, Global Citizen, Flat World, Internet, Web 2.0, Innovation, Start-Up

Archive for March, 2009

Landed in San Francisco: Stunning Lufthansa Service

I couldn’t be luckier for today’s flight LH 454 where I just landed in one of my most favoured cities, San Francisco. Bought myself an Economy Class ticket, used my abundance of miles for an upgrade to Business and checking into the Lounge in Frankfurt, I got a free upgrade to First Class. And yes, the Flugröserl was in the game again :)

Surely, this is not a lucky draw in the lottery, but based on my HON Circle-status, but I appreciate these gestures from Lufthansa a lot. Maybe, therefore, I am a bit biased, but overall flying Lufthansa like crazy in the last 3.5 years between the continents, I feel that it is time to express a thank for the splendid work the airline does.

Jumbo Jet Boing 747

It doesn’t come by surprise that – based on “good old Germany virtues” – Lufthansa consistently ranks high at safety, reliability and punctuality. But those same virtues culture-wise were not always prone to outstanding service, it’s usually not what Germans are like. Slightly on the brush side of life, the understanding of service falls short in the scale of galaxies what one finds in India, Singapore, Thailand or Japan. There, serving a customer is culturally considered an honour.

Hence, it deserves even more hail that Lufthansa grew above itself to be not only significantly better than average German service, but even on the many instances on the ground, but especially on board, truly exceptional. Gone are the times (which I remember) where a bitchy flight attendant would almost throw the tray with the meal in front of you.

Admittedly, passengers in Business and First Class pay more to get better service. But my point is that you can’t buy friendliness, attention and charm when it’s not in a company’s DNA, when you have the wrong people or you have the right people and over time in a  bad organisation they degrade to jerks. In my perception, Lufthansa has worked hard to change its DNA. In some instances I spoke to flight attendants off the records where they told me about their training in general and the briefings before every flight in particular. The purser would remind the cabin crew that it’s them who will make a difference in choosing Lufthansa over a competitor and make a lasting impact on the experience. So there seems to be a system of deliberate effort behind, and to me it seems that the system is bearing fruit.

There are many aspects of outstanding service, but it come most in the shade of getting something which you did not expect: Like today I chose for my meal a French wine, the flight attendant asked me if I was sure not to go for the Chilenean one. I stayed with my choice, but he came back to me smiling after two minutes with a sip with the one from Chile just to give me a try.

I don’t intend to celebrate my middle-age-wine-decadency with such an example; it’s just illustrating how small unexpected gestures can make a difference in delighting a customer. Today and in the last months and years I have seen a couple of these instances where Lufthansa’s staff has gone, or rather, flown that extra mile for me. Thanks. ist live

Web 2.0 macht vor keiner Nische halt. Jetzt wird auch die Hochkultur davon überrollt bzw. davon aufgerollt, und zwar mit einer neuen Plattform

Wie der Name schon suggeriert, dreht sich alles um Kultur, und zwar in der ganzen Spannweite von Musik, Literatur und Film. Wie ich auch gut unterrichteten Kreisen erfahren habe, wird demnächst auch Kunst, Design, Architektur und Bühne hinzukommen.

Eine erste Vorauswahl wird von der Redaktion getroffen, dann macht die Community weiter und kann CDs, Bücher und Filme bewerten und empfehlen.

The God of Chilling lives in Goa

Saturday morning in Bangalore and I am still full of best memories from last weekend in Goa, a place that constantly calls for coming back. After my friend Dirk and I with a heavy heart had decided to cancel our trip over Christmas last year due to specific terror threats, it was time to make up for it. And Goa never disappoints, Goa always delivers in its own kind.

Vagator - Italian Beach

Hence, we were a colourful gang of four MännerMItÄhre (sic!) which would translate into something like “MenOfHonour” from the three German-speaking countries. Tim and myself from Germany, Ingo from Austria and Frank from Switzerland who as the Swiss Consul to Bangalore brought diplomatic immunity into the equation. Here we were on the famous Saturday Night Market which has just re-opened after months of security-concerns. (The whole set of pictures, by the way, is here on Flickr).

Saturday Night Market in Goa

The Night Market is Goa in a nutshell, with all the different streaks that India’s smallest state has to offer. The prevailing feeling is that of an alternative lifestyle even with some old hippies from around the world who have been there for years, selling silver jewellery or baking original yummy Italian pizza. Then you have some of the package tourists who made their way from mostly Baga, quite a few Russians were around this year as well. But the best is that everybody is totally relaxed and liberal where nobody cares for impressions and expressions which are rather unusual e.g. in the corporate world (which is by no means a benchmark for happy and fulfilled living …;-):

The best, surely, in Goa are the beaches. Meandering along the coast, occasionally interrupted by huge rocks, they continue to touch passionately the Arabian Sea. Candolim is quite widespread, Baga rather densely populated, Vagator hides almost still like a little secret whereas Anjuna hails as the hotspot for the backpacker- and yoga-crowd. Everyone will find his or her little paradise here. Who is willing to go for the search, doing it on a motorbike is by far the best experience.

My Motorbike for Goa

(Note that there is no helmet. Nobody is wearing it in Goa. And it goes like this: As everybody is doing it, the outcome from the democratic decision is that in case of an accident the laws of physics have been lifted. So injuries are technically impossible …)

Most importantly in Goa, you have to let go. Let go from all measures of efficiency which usually dominate our busy lives. More often than not the service in one of the beach shackles is slow. It takes ages to place an order in spite of few guests whilst the waiters seem to have a good time standing around. And it’s exactly that dimension of time which seems to stretch to eternal relativistic proportions by melting seamlessly into a joint continuum with space. As we were joking: “In Goa no one dies from a heart attack.”

Anjuna Beach in Goa

Sitting down in one of these shackles with a cold drink in your hand for a sun-downer drink, being surrounded by lush-green palm-trees, looking out on the glittering water, having your male “MännerMitÄhre”-friends by your side, does not raise any further questions about the equilibrium of existence. A full plate of fresh seafood for 150 Rupees (~EUR 2.50) will do the rest.

From the 30 million Indian Gods, the one responsible for chilling must be living in Goa.