Net: On a recent day trip to Toronto which could have been “travel hell,” several USAir and Air Canada employees worked together to get me there and back painlessly. Air Canada’s Connie Hughes went the extra mile to help me look for a lost Kindle. These businesses should make it easy to tell their CEO’s about extraordinary service.
Over years of business travel it seems that missed flights, mechanical delays and other problems that create “travel hell” cluster on one or more days during the month. I was saved from just such a day recently by great customer service. I started the fun on a recent day trip to Toronto by misreading my itinerary and showing up for a flight through Philly after the plane had departed. As I was traveling to Toronto for only two meetings, including one with a very interesting company that has an opportunity to create a coalition loyalty program in China, I was suitably upset with myself for this screw-up. I went to the USAir Club and Sonia Perez, the club’s customer service agent was very helpful and put me on the next flight, despite the fact that it was 100% my fault that I missed the earlier plane. Great service experience number 1.
After a long day of meetings, I checked into Air Canada’s Maple Leaf Lounge at Pearson Airport only to find that my return trip through Philly was delayed. [Although I am not a member of the Air Canada club, through the Star Alliance, USAir and AC collaborate and allow me to use the club with my USAir Club card] I remarked to the customer service agent at the Maple Leaf Lounge – whose name I would soon learn is Connie Hughes – that my flight was delayed and I was worried about missing my connection. She immediately looked at the Air Canada flights and suggested I ask USAir if they would put me Air Canada’s direct flight to Boston. She informed me that if the delay was for mechanical problems, USAir should make the transfer and then found the only gate at the airport where I could talk to a USAir representative. Great service experience number 2. I went to the gate and the gate agent happily put me on the direct flight, which by the way, would get me home two hours earlier than my connection. Great service experience number 3.
So far so good as what could have easily been a travel hell day was actually turning out to be better than expected. But the best was yet to come. I went back to the Air Canada club to wait for my direct flight to Boston and realized I had left my Amazon Kindle somewhere. As I struggle with ADD, this was a frustrating but not unusual occurrence, so I began to retrace my steps. I returned to the gate and everywhere else I had been but found no sign of the Kindle. When I came back to the lounge, Connie was again at the front desk and I asked her if there was a lost and found. This is when customer service went from great to amazing. Here’s what she did:
- She found the two numbers for lost and found and called them both for me.
- She helped me search the club for the Kindle.
- She told me that she was from Boston and was flying there for the weekend and offered to check both the lost and found and the Wolfgang Puck restaurant where I could have left the Kindle for it and if found, would bring it with her on Friday.
- She emailed me that evening and the following day to say she had not found the Kindle.
Great customer service experiences 4 – 7.
One of my fist posts on customer service was about how two Massachusetts state employees turned a flat tire into a great experience with their extraordinary acts of service. And although I am still upset about losing the Kindle, I feel a lot better about the whole experience because of all Connie did to help me.
Fortunately, I was able to get the email address for Calin Rovinescu, the President and CEO of Air Canada and will send this to him along with a special thanks to Connie for her excellent service. The only recommendation I have for Calin is to find a way to make it easy for customers who experience extraordinary service to let him know about it. USAir does something like this, as they send their frequent flyers “Above & Beyond” cards to fill out and send in when they receive great service. Perhaps AC can start this practice as well.
1. If Connie Hughes can turn a lost Kindle and an almost travel hell day into a good experience, what are your employees doing to help your customers today?
2. If your employees are providing extraordinary service today, have you made it easy for your customers to say thank you and let you know about the experience.
3. If you hear about extraordinary acts of service, how will you reward the employees who delivered it?