Customer care is key as Gogo grows its patch

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Being asked to fly to Chicago to attend Gogo’s ‘All Access Day’ is pretty much the stuff of dreams for me (and it makes me look like I have a really glamorous life). So, on the flight over, in the name of RESEARCH, I coughed up seven dollars for a 90-minute pass to assess the product (and also to stream the Germany-Portugal game, which was understandably difficult).

Gogo’s standard receipt email – which features their iconic graphics and the line, “What a classy purchase” – is a succinct representation of who they are as a company: detail oriented and consumer conscious.

In fact, according to president and CEO Michael Small’s opening presentation at the Itasca headquarters, Gogo is the only connectivity provider that has a live inflight customer care department.

Small also briefly covered the company’s tactics for growing its footprint in the connectivity world, which basically boils down to pursuing every possible avenue instead of gambling on one technology or another – from Iridium and Inmarsat L-band satellite-supported connectivity solutions to Ku connectivity and Inmarsat Global Xpress Ka service, you name it, Gogo is doing it. The company maintains a wide array of options as it services a wide variety of clients, including the business aviation community.

Given the scale of the event last week, and Gogo’s plans to move into a building in downtown Chicago later this year, one assumes the company can afford to hedge its bets, and obviously it hasn’t been content to sit on its laurels. Products like Gogo Vision (an IFE streaming service) and the upcoming 2Ku connectivity system prove that Gogo is always pursuing that elusive goal of being The Best.

Crowning The Best clearly depends on which rubric one uses to judge, but Gogo seems to want to be the provider that is not just on the leading edge of technological advances, but also for people, by people. It’s easy enough to say this if everything’s going well. If the speed is fast, the service uninterrupted, and hiccoughs handled with aplomb, then you might consider yourself The Best. We know, however, that Gogo fields its fair share of complaints from passengers who want better, faster, cheaper inflight Wi-Fi service. Heck, while I was in Itasca, my editor was giving a presentation that addressed this very topic at the SITA IT Summit in Brussels.

Sure, while at Gogo, I was impressed with the innovations presented. Yes, I enjoyed the sunset dinner cruise that let everyone relax and mingle while enjoying stunning vistas of the Chicago skyline. And of course, the thoughtful goodie bags featuring portable gadgets (capitalizing on the mobile aspect of Gogo) were much appreciated.

But it was when my flight home was cancelled due to thunderstorms and rebooked for the next morning that the “for people, by people” aspect of Gogo really stepped to the forefront. I’m not going to say that I was stuck on a corner with my carry-on, rain sodden, dejected, miserable, but I will say that the glamor of the trip evaporated as quickly as my hopes of going home.

“Not to worry,” Gogo the Corporate Entity said to me, and took over arranging a hotel room and dinner for me.

Of course, one can say, “Chantal, obviously they made sure you were comfortable. They knew you were going to write about this.” But taking care of people seems to be a part of their philosophy, from initial research to unforeseen weather disaster, and that might be what helps to crown them in the end.

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