Recently on a flight home, I had one of those experiences that moves me to write about it. These epiphanies are usually customer satisfaction related and this would be no exception.
In my job I have to travel a fair amount and find myself on airplanes at a fairly regular rate. I don’t have any fancy status on the airlines and at best, have the initial level of status that gets me on the plane a little early. I just want to be clear here that this is a regular old coach experience and pretty mundane.
On this particular trip, I was returning home and had to fly from Memphis to Houston; small jet and only one flight attendant. Our attendant was very friendly and had a great rapport with the customers. When she asked me what kind of soda I would like, she even called me by name. What? How did she know my name? I left this very cramped uncomfortable flight with a very good feeling and it was completely driven by the flight attendant’s attitude. I forgot all about the hard seats and cramped environment.
Now, my next leg into the big bird with decent room and seats. Four flight attendants and breathing room. AHHHHH.
Enter the customer satisfaction killer (or CSK): A seasoned flight attendant, barking orders up and down the isle and slamming carts around. It came to me and my seatmate ordered water. As the flight attendant handed the glass to the guy at the window, it spilled into my lap and just missed my computer. (Good thing, because now I can write this). Her comment has not left me yet. “Gosh, I’ve just been dribbling stuff all day."
She quickly stuffed a few napkins at me and moved on. Not a sorry or any sort of apologetic reaction.
I guess as I reflect back on it there is a great business lesson here: Which attendant do you have working for you? All organizations will make mistakes. It’s the way our people handle them that makes the difference. I have learned over my career that empathy is not a teachable skill. It is inherent in our DNA. It is important to keep the people with it in front of our customers and our less-skilled members out of the front lines.
Better be on the lookout for CSKs on your team.