Being our best selves for others
I landed in San Francisco last Wednesday with a mere ten minutes to make my connection to Seattle. My options:
Waltz through the airport assuming they’d hold the plane for me
Sulk and hope that I’d get on the next flight
Run like hell
I choose C. Time was not on my side. I tightened the straps on my messenger bag, checked to make sure my shoes were tied tightly and decided that I was not going to miss my flight without a fight. Over the next few minutes I set a personal dress-clothes-running record covering about a mile with my roller bag in my left hand and my messenger bag slapping against my back at every stride.
My eyes lit up as I approached my gate at a sprint, reading the sign that said FINAL BOARDING instead of CLOSED. When I approached the gate agent, he said:
Wow! You made it! Welcome!
You look like you ran so hard I’d like to upgrade you to first class!
We almost gave up your seat and since you’re late you will have to check your bag.
The gate agent choose C. When I protested citing the fact that the flight was not full, I was told more sternly as he tagged my bag that I was too ‘late to count on overhead space.’ Elation fading I went down the jet bridge. When I was out of sight I tore the checked baggage tag off my suitcase, stuffed it in my pocket and found plenty of room above my seat for my bag. I sat down in my window seat and promptly fell asleep.
When I awoke my brain was looping on the critical moment of customer service the gate agent missed. Over and over again I believe we engender loyalty and brand integrity by being at our best for our customer. Whether our customer is unhappy over pest issues or a communication issue, whether they are unhappy for a reason at work or a reason at home, our job in service is to be at our best when they are at their worst. This is not just the external client. This is for our teams, for our peers and for each other.