Customer service excellence is alive and well…you just need to be in the right place at the right time! We all have our stories of appalling customer service and we’re happy to share. We’re factually less likely to share the positive experiences. It’s one of those human frailties that for some reason, the negative experiences stay with us longer, sometimes for years whilst the good ones tend to fade away very quickly. There is a scientific reason of course… when ‘fight or flight’ is triggered in our primitive brain, the experience gets deposited in place from which we can recall it so that we recognise when it is about to happen again and take evasive action. When the ‘potential friend’ response is triggered, we enjoy the moment and possibly allow the moment to linger for a short while, but then it merges into our ‘similarity’ file along with all other ‘friend’ type experiences, and then it fades into a warm fuzzy sense rather than specific memory.
So, I want to capture one here and invite you to share one of yours – a kind of group therapy and reminder that good things do happen in the world.
I was returning from Belfast a few nights ago, flying with a well-known Irish airline, not necessarily reputed for its excellent customer service. The flight was delayed and very full and the cabin was uncomfortably hot. In my experience, cold autumn evenings tend to result in hot buses, tube trains, waiting rooms, shops and in the case a very hot and stuffy aeroplane.
Belfast to Birmingham is only an hour and ten minute flight and the cabin crew are therefore busy and under pressure to get everything done as quickly as possible. They don’t have time to be “nice” or “accommodating” and they certainly don’t have time for demanding passengers. As a hot and bothered cabin crew member came bustling past, I said “excuse me, it really is very hot in here, is there anything you can do?” I received the expected answer and judged it to carry little sincerity or intention to resolve my problem.. “leave it with me Sir, I’ll see what I can do” basically, business as usual and my low expectation reinforced.
To my absolute amazement a few minutes later, the cabin crew member called ‘Niall’ – he deserves to be named and famed, returned with a
Complimentary bottle of water, a plastic beaker containing ice and a cold wet towel – surprised doesn’t quite cut it and delighted is the very least I felt! He told me he had spoken to the captain who had agreed to turn down the cabin temperature. I thanked Niall with genuine gratitude and off he went. Wait – it gets better… within a few minutes, cool air streamed through the air duct and the cabin temperature reduced to an ideal level. Unbelievable! Stunning! Excellent!
When it was time to disembark, I waited. Tired and hungry of course, but one last human interaction needed. I approached a nervous looking Niall, obviously expecting a complaint, and I thanked him, genuinely and warmly thanked him. I asked for his full name and his bosses name and I shook his hand and said my goodbye while he beamed at the end of a long and tough day.
Isn’t it great when those things happen and we take the opportunity to reward them with a simple but genuine “thank you”.
Cheers Niall McClaverty – you’re great!