Would You Clean Up The Mess Of Your Customer?


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1368189244_largeThis past Saturday, August 30th, I took a flight from Pennsylvania to California, via US Airways. I had a window seat in the last row of the airplane, closest to the restrooms. In the aisle seat of my row, sat a man with an obvious back problem, as he kept wincing and squirming around in his seat. Throughout the flight, he continued to ask the stewardess for full cans of soda.  But, he never actually drank the soda. He was taking the cans of soda and putting them behind his back, for lumbar support. After the third can was placed behind his lower back, he seemed to sit calmly, resting better during the flight.

The stewardess, catching on to what was happening, approached him.

“Sir, what are you doing with those cans of soda I gave you?”

“I put them behind my back for support. I have some back pain and these help. Didn’t bring my pillow.”

“Well sir, if those cans explode because you are leaning against them, guess who cleans them up? I do, sir. I do.”

“I’m sorry–do you have a pillow I can put behind my back perhaps?”

“Sir, don’t you have a jacket or something you can use?”

“No, I don’t. I didn’t come prepared.”

“Well, pillows are for first class only. I can try to find you one.”


“I said try–there’s probably none available. And, in the meantime, I need the cans back.”

He hands over the cans and then looks uncomfortable again.

Okay–so he didn’t come prepared for the long flight. Bad move, sir. But, did the stewardess need to treat him his way?

She didn’t end up finding a pillow and didn’t come back to tell him–just left him hanging. He didn’t bother to approach either.

From an employee perspective, I can see how cleaning up spilled cans of soda on an airplane seat wouldn’t be fun. Preventing that is ideal. But clearly this guy was in some pain. Getting a pillow or even an unused blanket to curl up to use would have been helpful.

So, I ask you to ponder on these three questions:

  • When your customers don’t come prepared, how do you react?
  • Do you just focus on the mess that they may/have made or do you try to accommodate, despite the obvious?
  • Would you still clean up your customer’s messes or do you say they are S.O.L.?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jenny Dempsey
Jenny is Consumer Experience Manager for Apeel Sciences and FruitStand with more than 15 years of customer service experience. She is co-founder and a regular contributor on CustomerServiceLife.com.


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