From 30,000 feet – a lesson in extraordinary service

30k feet-lesson in customer service2

I’ll spare you the run-up to how we wound up in Switzerland over the Thanksgiving holiday. Still, my family and I traded in a night of indigestion and a Black Friday hangover for a hop over the pond to do some skiing and see some friends that live in Basel. Because of the travel calendar my wife and I keep, we are sitting on a lot of miles, so we dominated the business class cabin on Swiss Air to Zurich. It was a massive treat for all of us, especially the kids. I’m telling you this to share the by-product of the trip.

Danny Mathias was the head cabin attendant on the flight home to LA. After the captain made the usual announcements about airspeed, weather, and altitude, Danny came on and introduced himself and told us about the service aspect of the flight. His team performed the service in exact lockstep. The drink trolly moved at the same pace up the aisle; the food was presented simultaneously. Unison and precision; movement like a Swiss watch, and I appreciated the performance. What happened next blew me away.

Danny came to each passenger in the entire cabin, personally introduced himself in one of three languages, addressed us by our name, and asked if he could offer anything. He performed the same presentation to my teenage daughters as he did to the grown-ups. Danny explained how service works but not to feel that we needed to eat when they were serving, and we could have whatever we wanted whenever we wanted. He sprinkled some pixie dust on what a very incredible experience was already and elevated it to the next level. It was abundantly clear that his team was wholly dedicated to our enjoyment of the flight, and if there was anything that we wanted, the call button was there for a reason. I’ve flown a handful of times in business class to far-off lands before, and each long-haul flight had a chief purser. I have never been exposed to this level of passion and commitment to the customer experience. Impression made. The flight out was excellent, and the service was 99% the same. However, Danny made it 100% memorable.

So what?

I can’t believe I never thought of this, but service basics are an introduction. Before we left town in LA, we stopped to eat at a casual dining place near the airport, and the server introduced herself as any server would. That’s nothing special; it’s a prescribed script. But what if the manager came out personally to introduce themselves and somehow give us the impression that the experience at dinner would exceed expectations? That manager would have set the table-pardon the pun-for what would by sheer mindset be a better than average meal at worst.

So, I offer this, how many managers skillfully cut into the dance of furnishing a home with a quick intro, flash press, and card presentation. Making a large purchase is stressful, even before all the malarky (I say MALARKY a lot now) brought on by COVID. Having a hotline to the boss would be a very comforting lifeline for a customer. As a customer, feeling like you have a friend in management is a great thing to have. An available Bat-Signal gives the sales staff more confidence in their commitments and that those commitments are in concert with the store’s policies. With that, the feeling the customer gets is one of professionalism. Teamwork, honesty, integrity, and security are the hallmarks of the non-tangibles so crucial to making the perfect sale. It tells the customer that where they are purchasing is the right place. I want to buy from the Seal Team Six of furniture – don’t you?

Let’s take this one step further. How would you feel if you or a buyer opened a new vendor and a member of senior management called to introduce themselves personally and express their appreciation for the new business? As a rep, if my VP personally called a new customer to chat them up and get to know them, I would be thrilled that my relationship with the retailer is acknowledged by my boss and then backed up. Wouldn’t that send you a message of care, integrity, and sincerity? I bet Danny would do it.

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