“I’ve got a golden ticket” sang Charlie Bucket in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Well, I’ve got a golden ticket as well now courtesy of British Airways. I am not talking a gold executive club card, I am referring to an entirely new initiative. BA have sent me a golden card I can hand to a member of staff who I believe has demonstrated exceptional service.

Although I am unsure as to what happens next – do they trade these in at duty free? Do they get to add stripes to their uniform? Are their achievements championed within BA–  I find myself intrigued as to what lies behind this idea..

So what’s going on?

Who’s behaviour are BA trying to influence here? Do they want their staff to rise to new heights of service spurred on by the excitement of owning lots of small golden cards? Or do they want passengers to actually start mentioning and recognising when they have an exceptional experience thereby motivating the BA employees?

I think I understand it more from an internal perspective. Given their renewed emphasis on ‘to fly to serve’ I can see how on paper an initiative of this type could seek to drive better quality service and improved customer experience. Recognition and reward are two of the key stages in any behaviour change.

However, in the real world I am less certain that being handed a small golden card is truly motivating. On the surface this seems a somewhat clunky way to create recognition for the BA staff. Somewhat akin to my three-year-old son slapping a sticker on me when he likes the parenting he’s just received (which he does often!) What’s happened to just telling people they have done a great job. Couldn’t BA just be vocal in a campaign about ‘tell us if you like what we do and tell us if you don’t’?

From a customer experience I am less clear what’s in it for me? How as a user of BA does this enhance my experience? If I was too shy to actually tell someone I thought they were doing well then resorting to handing them a glorified post-it note might help. Or perhaps it appeals to people’s deep-held belief that those who do a good job should somehow be better recognised and therefore BA is a jolly good business? As much as I believe in celebrating great work, as a frequent user of BA, I find myself asking where’s the other half of the equation? Where is the red card I can issue in the result of incredibly poor service? And if I am to be a co-creator in helping BA enhance their business then how do I benefit?

So is this a good idea?  As is often the case I can’t evaluate whether this is a good idea until I understand the context and underlying insight behind it.


With thanks to BriYYZ for the image