2 simple ways to help customers remember what’s needed


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Recently returning from the North American Conference on Customer Management in Orlando, I had the “pleasure” of having a layover in the Atlanta airport on my way back home. My first time through Atlanta was on this trip (both ways), and after having seen how busy it was on my way down to the conference, I was anticipating a similar level of congestion on the trip back.

I was not disappointed.

However, while I had anticipated a large amount of people passing through security and out to the gates to get to my flight, what I had not planned on encountering were a couple of Transportation Security Administration employees who would make the required process a little easier, a little more fun, and a little more memorable (in a pleasant way).

As I approached the initial check point for identification and boarding pass verification, they were just making a shift change with one employee heading off to break and the next one getting started. Since I had already been in line for a while and I was the next one up, I light-heartedly suggested to the woman that had just come on duty that it appeared to me to have been a rough time to come on shift, with all of the passenger congestion coming through.

“This is nothing,” she replied, as she looked over my identification information. “In fact, this is actually kind of light for a weekday. You should be here around the holidays; now that’s the time to stay away from the airport!” Then she was occupied with the next passenger in line behind me. She appeared to be in a good mood, heartily and sincerely greeting every passenger as they came through.

Simple Way #1: Genuineness comes through in all you do. If you are not happy, your customers will notice; however, if you are happy, your customers will also notice.

My second encounter with a TSA employee was indirect, but equally had an impact on me. As the passenger lines funneled into four side-by-side queues for the x-ray and metal detectors, The TSA employee was walking back and forth between the lines and repeating information over our heads for the benefit of everyone coming through to help speed the process up. These are some of the humorous things he was shouting:

“Almost there: only two and a half miles to go to your gate!”

“Please remember: laptops must be in a bin by itself through the x-ray machine. If there is anything else in the bin with your laptop…[pause for effect]…then it is not by itself!”

“Remember that only 3.5 ounces of liquid are permitted past this point. Recent scientific studies have shown that water, in bottles, is indeed a liquid…!”

I’m certain that this man’s primary responsibility is to highlight the kinds of problems that are repetitively encountered in this process. His humorous spin helped make the uncomfortable “cattle-driven” feeling a little less prominent, with the added bonus of helping us to remember to avoid specific mistakes made by others. In fact, it was easy for me to remember these things to relate them to you here, and I’m sure I will recall the specifics the next time I travel, as well.

Simple Way #2: Appropriate humor helps to brighten dreary tasks, and makes things easier to remember. It lightens unavoidable wait times, and helps to embed bland, but necessary, information firmly in the mind of the hearer.

While I was unable to appropriate the names of either of these TSA employees, they made a lasting impression on me by simply being genuinely engaged in their work, and by ensuring a bit of light-heartedness eased my situation as a customer. Perhaps these simple lessons can be worked into your customer systems, as well.

Just for fun…

“The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity. But not in that order.” – Brian Pickrell

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Steve Martorano
Steve has been on the front lines with customers for over 25 years. He is currently Director of Customer Services for Polygon Northwest, a real estate developer in both the Seattle and Portland markets. Steve is also the creator of ThinkCustomerSatisfaction.com, an online resource designed to provide insights and training to customer professionals across many industries.


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