Flying on the Front Lines

The red eye flight to New York is never pretty. A couple hundred travelers, packed into a flying sardine can, play an extended game of TWISTER at 30,000 feet. Strangers climb over each other for 5 hours, all the while desperately searching for 20 minutes of sleep.

This was the scene as I coughed my way cross-country. Unable to find comfort in my middle seat, I chose instead to chat up the flight attendant. This 34-year industry veteran was polished, polite, and efficient as he educated me about his travel, living arrangements, and challenges from the traveling public. All the while he worked around my position in his miniscule galley, never fussing about my being in his way.

Truth be told, I stopped enjoying flying years ago. In the search for every last dollar, the airlines have sucked all the fun out of travel for me. I’ll fly infrequently, never feeling I’m missing much.

Yet no matter how uncomfortable, some trips are necessary.

This time the saving grace was a gent named Rory. He shared stories of sickness and travails of traveling. We resonated regarding real estate.

And he fixed me an elixir of OJ and hot water to calm my cough.

Travel being what it is, the best one can hope for is an uneventful flight and a TSA agent with a sense of humor. But Rory delivered more, turning a tedious experience into something relatively pleasant.

He has my gratitude.

Customers have choices, of course, including paying for more legroom and taking alternate transportation. But for anyone flying on a budget, every airline is basically the same.

There’s a lesson for every business, because airlines aren’t alone in trying to squeeze money from their customers. Regardless of what you sell, customers have lots of options. Pushing your clientele too far can easily drive them away.

The lesson from Rory should be that even if your industry treats customers like cattle, you can salvage the situation with good employees as your first line of defense. In this case a team member with great people skills made an extra effort, demonstrating United’s commitment to customer service.

I don’t fantasize flying will improve. But a slice of humanity six miles up made an otherwise unpleasant experience memorable.

With that said, I wish you a week of profitable marketing.

—————

Find hidden strengths in your marketing at www.marketbuilding.com.

2 Replies to “Flying on the Front Lines

  1. However bad or good the opening situation appears to be, you, the customer, can improve the outcome by exhibiting the behavior and genuine interest in the other person that you’d like to receive. A big smile, a relaxed verbal approach and direct eye contact (with Americans, anyway) can go a long way to opening a positive relationship and experience.

    1. Very true, David. Though the customer is always right, we all have the ability to control the tone of the dialogue to help maximize the positive potential of each situation.

Comments are closed.