A Tale of Two Airlines

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Traveling can sometimes be a bit of a nightmare. Can I hear a rousing ‘AMEN’ to that?! If you live in a smaller metro area as do I, it can be an even bigger nightmare because you have to take two planes to get most everywhere and at least one of those planes is a small regional jet. These are usually crammed with people and flight duration is short and does not allow time for the typical service you would encounter on a longer jaunt. I have many times been served by flight attendants who were obviously stressed by this and really offered nothing extra to the service experience.

As in every service situation, the experience can be made better or worse by the customer service personnel you encounter. As a customer service speaker, I am constantly on the road and have been on 24 flights in the first two months of this year. Thus, I have had plenty of time to observe airline service in action recently and wanted to share my tale of two airlines and two unusually creative flight attendants with you my customer service blog readers.



I normally fly American due to my proximity to DFW but on one of my trips took the Delta rejional jet out of Shreveport. We knew immediately that we would be well taken care of as the flight attendant Jackie greeted every passenger with a warm smile and greeting even though the outside Louisiana air was literally freezing. As we buckled in Jackie told us to ‘Let go of all your stress and worries and let me take care of YOU!’ She made a game of the safety briefing and rewarded passengers who had paid attention with items from a bag of goodies including candy and cookies. The first prizes went to people who could recall both her name and the captain’s name and the type of plane we were on. That was followed by a message that she was glad we knew all that trivia, but that safety was her main concern. The questions that followed were all regarding the flight safety procedures she had just outlined. Her positive attitude continued throughout the flight and our last impression was again of her smile as she genuinely thanked us for choosing Delta as we disembarked.

On two of my American flights several weeks apart, I had the same flight attendant, Jodie Monts. When I recognized her on the latter flight, I immediately smiled and told the man sitting next to me that we were in for a treat. Why? Because on a weather delayed flight earlier that month Jodie had done everything in her power to lighten the mood, intentionally using her Texas voice to make everyone feel welcome. She used her natural sense of humor to make all the passengers laugh and put a smile on our faces, making the best of a not so great situation. It reminded me of baking muffins. If you sit with your nose pressed up to the oven waiting for the timer to go off, the 8 minutes of cooking time can seem like and eternity. Yet if you answer the phone and talk to a friend, you may not even notice the passing of time and may even burn the muffins! Jodie knew this secret and made the time fly by engaging the passengers as though we were her friends followed by an assurance that the flight crew would do everything in their power to get us to our destination as quickly as possible. My second encounter with Jodie thankfully had no delays involved but did involve her contagiously enthusiastic personality. If you are viewing this post on the AllenSpeaks.com website, I hope you enjoy the picture of Jodie’s smiling face with another face you may recognize! (The first person to email me with the name of that face and the name of the TV show he is on will win a Starbucks gift card!!)

What both of these flight attendants did was to personalize the service offered to customers in their own unique way. So here is a question for you. How do you add your own personality to every close encounter with a customer? If you are managing a front line team, how do you encourage customer service staff to add their own special sauce to the service mix?



A big thank you to Jodie and Jackie and all the great airline staff who have helped weary travelers safely navigate a more enjoyable path during what many would call the ‘Snowmaggedon’ winter. You are appreciated and you are important not just to the success of your airline but also to the mood and experience of many a road warrior like me!

Teresa Allen is a road warrior and customer service keynote speaker who travels the U.S. and abroad delivering highly interactive and dynamic customer service presentations to organizations like yours! Contact Teresa via email at [email protected] or through her website at www.AllenSpeaks.com.



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