Monday, May 09, 2005

T.I.P.S. 101** Thanking Service II

Thanking Service, Part II
By Gil C. Schmidt

Actually, By Carol. I’ll just step aside and let her tell you her story:

“For me, American Airlines and British Airways epitomized two very different customer service approaches, one good and one bad. Two real-life examples illustrate.

American Airlines: I was going to Colombia via Miami. The plane had mechanical problems while in Dallas and things started heading south (not us, unfortunately). They mixed up the gates and sent us to three places (not even in the same terminal), told us conflicting stories, etc. By the time we finally got to Miami, people were IRATE and were taking it out on the Miami gate agents. When it was my turn, I told the gate agent that I was sorry things had gone badly in Dallas, and I was sorry that they were bearing the brunt of it. The guy behind me (with my same routing Dallas-Bogotá) pitched an ever-loving FIT. He cursed, he screamed. He reminded me of a toddler who wanted candy in the throes of a tantrum in the middle of the grocery store. After we boarded the plane, he made it a point to walk back and find me in the Economy section to let me know that AA had upgraded him to Business Class.

British Airways: I was flying to Switzerland via London, but the plane had major mechanical problems while in Dallas. They tried borrowing parts from American Airlines, but only had one plane to work with. (One plane flies London-Dallas and then returns later in the day.) I knew they were in trouble, because the crew had been on duty too long already and wouldn't have enough "legal" hours left for the flight to London. They had to wait for the gate staff to return to the airport, however, because we were the last flight of the day for BA and everyone had gone home. By the time we deboarded, still in Dallas, we had been on the plane for six hours.

People were very upset. When I got to the front of the line, I told the agent it was no problem, that all I needed was a taxi voucher to get home and I'd come back the next day. That night I baked cookies and took them to the gate agents. I told them I appreciated their hard work, and knew their job wasn't easy that day. BA planned to fly two planes back to London that day (the one from the day before, plus the regularly scheduled flight). I said I'd take the second flight. Unfortunately they had mechanical problems AGAIN with that plane, and they ended up crowding as many of us on the first flight as they could. When I got my revised boarding pass, I wasn't in Economy. I wasn't in Business. I had a seat in First Class. Pretty good for a $700 ticket!

Through their responses, the two airlines demonstrated to me which behavior they wanted to reinforce. And I then flew British Airways over American every chance I got.”

Okay, now you know some of the reasons why I admire Carol. She’s an excellent customer service provider and an excellent customer. I’m sure you appreciate and want to meet more people like her, or even to follow her example. Please do so. Things would be so much better, right?


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