What Your Business Can Learn From the TSA’s Pre-Check Program

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In the past few months, the TSA has increased the locations of it’s new “Pre-Check” program to multiple airports around the country. For those not familiar with Pre-Check, it’s essentially like going back in time to air travel in 1998. Once you qualify for Pre-Check, you avoid 99.9% of the nightmare that is the “regular” TSA. You don’t have to wait on line. You don’t have to take off your belt, shoes, or watch. You don’t have to remove bulky sweaters. You don’t have to take your laptop out of your bag. You simply put your stuff on the conveyor belt, and walk right though. For airports that don’t have the CLEAR program in operation, it’s a lifesaver.

For frequent travelers like myself, it’s a Godsend. Last week, as I was flying (no pun intended) through Pre-Check security at Newark Airport, I realized why I love it so much, and that businesses could actually take a few lessons from Pre-Check.

For those who know me, the fact that I’m publicly saying that anyone can learn anything from the TSA is a miracle, a true testament to how much the agency has improved – how much less they suck now than they did in 2004.

1) Pre-Check knows its audience, as your business should, too. Pre-Check isn’t for everyone. It’s only for very frequent fliers, who have agreed to a government background check.

The reason Pre-Check is so awesome is exactly that – It’s not for everybody. The majority of people traveling on any given day don’t need it, nor have any knowledge that it even exists, because they’re not frequent travelers. They get on a plane twice a year to visit Grandma. And that’s fine. Because of that, the people who do need it, get the best possible service. We know that we’ll avoid the lines, and get through security in under two minutes. We know that when we need it to work, it does. It’s the same reason people come back to the same restaurant over and over – The restaurant knows them and treats them well because of it. Recognize each customer with quality service, but recognize your most frequent (and most expensive customers) in an entirely separate category.

2) Make your customers need your service so much that it physically hurts when they can’t get it. When I walk into an airport, and it’s busy, and there are tons of lines, and the airport doesn’t have Pre-Check, it’s actually painful. You know the line “you don’t know what you got till it’s gone?” That’s Pre-Check. When I get on a “regular” security line, I know that I have to go back to the “old” way of doing things – Taking off my belt, waiting on line, etc. It’s a pain in the ass, and I long for the specialized service I have with PreCheck. It’s the same as when I go to a super-popular restaurant that doesn’t know me, and I have to wait an hour for a table, I long for Morton’s. Make such a special relationship with your customers that they long to use you, even when they have other options.

3) Make non-customers jealous of your customers. Make them want to be customers, too. You have no IDEA how many people stop me after they see me breeze through security. “How did you do that? How do I get it?” And of course, I’m happy to tell them. I also tell everyone about PreCheck when I’m NOT at the airport. If my travel comes up, I tell them.

4) Finally, make sure that your business solves a problem, fixes something, creates a solution otherwise not available. We have to travel. People have to buy things. PreCheck makes my travel easy again, and makes me not want to travel any other way. What can you do in your business to make sure that your customers never go anywhere else? What problem can you solve?

Any other thoughts? Favorite TSA stories? Tell me below.

Thanks for reading!

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