The Simple Complexity of Outstanding Customer Service

But she could get by with the bare minimum. She could be pleasant but not super friendly. She could wait to be asked before providing a bunch of helpful information, or extras like looking at the availability of upgraded seats. She could seem like she’s doing her job competently, but she likely doesn’t get paid based on going above and beyond to be enthusiastic and proactively helpful.

Yet, she was. She clearly gets satisfaction out of being outstanding and helpful. And she absolutely MADE my morning of travel, putting me at ease and putting a smile on my face (which is a feat before I’ve had caffeine, as anyone who has encountered me in the morning can attest).

Outstanding customer service is not complicated. There was nothing particularly fancy here, no tricks or gimmicks or whizbang technology. But Fran was helpful, friendly, clearly enjoyed her job, and made me feel like she was glad I was there.

The problem is that these concepts are exceedingly simple, yet so few companies set the bar there. It’s not cheap nor easy to find the Frans of the world and keep them motivated, happy and continually rewarded for being exceptional, much less to have Fran at scale (it’s far easier in a concierge-like environment like this one). The basics aren’t necessarily sexy, or “viral”, or likely to make the media.

Moreover, when we find people like her, we promote them into management and remove them from the places where they can make an outstanding and direct difference, because our companies aren’t built to create authority, career development, and prestige in front-line roles.


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The Simple Complexity of Outstanding Customer Service - Brass Tack ThinkingSomeone at American Airlines, please give Fran a raise.

I travel a lot, so I fork over the cash each year – about $500 – to be a member of American’s Admiral’s Club. It’s a nice little airline lounge that they have in a lot of major airports, including my home base of O’Hare, and it makes waiting for a flight easier with some snacks and beverages, free wifi, comfortable seats and plentiful outlets. Way worth the money in itself.

I walked in yesterday before my flight to Austin, and was greeted by Fran at the desk. I handed over my card so she could check me in, and she asked my destination.

With a big smile, Fran went on to say:

“Well, welcome Ms. Naslund. Flight 3600 is departing out of gate G13 today, and I currently show an aircraft on the ground and a crew checked in, so you should be all set for an on time departure. We’ll be boarding at about 9:15 and we’ll announce the flight as it comes up, and if there are any delays, I’ll let you know.

Now let me see if there might be any upgrades available….ah, unfortunately not today, but I do have a bulkhead seat held if you’d like that instead of your current seat assignment.”

(I accepted with gratitude…) Leer más “The Simple Complexity of Outstanding Customer Service”