We’re no strangers to air travel. With clients across states and team members in multiple countries, hopping on a plane every few weeks to hash out business plans is just par for the course. Like many companies in our position, we have experienced the good and the bad (and sometimes downright terrible) aspects that come with frequent flying. And while we haven’t always been overjoyed at the quality, these experiences have certainly taught us a thing or two about what truly excellent customer service means and how to achieve it.
For example, a recent Qatar Airways flight to and from India left us with nothing but positive feedback for the company. Why? The staff was not only friendly and accommodating, but genuinely friendly and accommodating — something that is hard to find in an age where phrases like “my pleasure” are hardwired into employee’s dialogue whether they truly feel that way or not. As such, the authenticity of QA created a positive memorable experience for us. The service received made us eager to recommend them to our network, achieving word of mouth marketing for the company just because they were helpful and nice during our time with them. The “remembered experience” is the most impactful aspect of customer interaction, and QA succeeded in creating one that worked in their favor.
It was a bit of a surprise then to move from such a positive service experience to a polar opposite one with Delta, whom we fly with frequently (and usually without complaint). We arrived at the gate at JFK Airport and asked a simple question about transfers to one of the employees. Instead of receiving a courteous response, the answer was somewhat abrupt: “Did you check the screen?”
It’s no secret that airport employees have a lot on their plates, especially at an airport as busy as JFK. But how much time would this employee truly have wasted by addressing us politely rather than with a “no care” attitude? In this instance, they weren’t even busy helping anyone else – it would have been easy as pie to answer the question and perhaps tack on an afterthought such as, “For future reference, you can also look to the screen for help.” No matter that the screen was not functioning properly in this instance.
The customer service from Delta was in such sharp contrast with the hospitality received on our previous flight with QA, and yet the only real changes were in how the employees spoke to us and their willingness to help. No need to shower us in swag or free upgrades; just a need to treat us like real human beings. By taking a position of giving rather than simply enduring, QA earned not only our gratitude, but our future business. Hard to say the same about Delta.
Sometimes all it takes is a simple change in attitude to achieve excellent customer service. What tiny detail could you alter to turn your one time customers into customers for life?