The Guts of Great Service in Tough Times

Even great customer service can fail during tough times. The most accomplished teams and the most well tested procedures have faltered in tough moments.

Happily, I witnessed the guts of great service on a recent Continental/United airlines flight in tough weather conditions in the eastern US.

The Guts of Great Customer Service in Tough Times Image by: C!

The Story. We circled in a hold pattern on our way to Newark Liberty Airport and finally diverted to Baltimore to refuel and wait out the storm.  I have been a road warrior for 20 years and been through it many times. Yet this time the in flight crew captured my attention with remarkably different customer service.

They told us everything they knew and admitted what they didn’t yet know.  They updated us constantly.  The airline gave us the guts of great service in tough times:

Sharing information to share control.

The Results. A few hundred informed passengers remained positive, busy, and calm.    We were able to use cell phones to communicate with those waiting for us and smart phones to get the fast changing info from the airline’s website.  The flight attendants also answered every question directly and repeatedly. The airline gave us the gift of information and a sense of control.

We customers, especially Americans, like to have some control over what happens to us.  Airlines have been using technology to meet this need with options like boarding passes on our mobile devices, individual entertainment screens for each coach class seat, and power outlets to recharge our portable electronic devices.

When service providers add human communication to these technological options, they deliver the guts of great customer service and a sense of control in tough times.

How well do you share information with your customers to share control?

If you do this well, the results are positively startling and memorable. Kudos Continental/United airlines. You turned a tough time into a manageable situation.

I am grateful.

Yours in service,
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach

Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach, delivers customer service and teamwork training for delivering the guts of great service to every customer. Preview and purchase her new DVD Customer Service USA – Regional Differences That Matter.

3 Responses to “The Guts of Great Service in Tough Times”

  1. Fantastic post Kate. It’s true that customers are much more understanding in difficult circumstances if they are informed and listened to. Including them in the conversation, not pretending you have all the answers and working to get the latest information will go far in building relationships. As a staff member, how would you like to be treated in that circumstance? Do that.

  2. Oh Kate, I am so happy for your experience. If only this were the norm rather than the exception. Stress builds in this type of scenario when they don’t tell you anything. And it can be solved by such a simple means as sharing information. Thanks for pointing it out. Maybe this will turn the tide.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      I can hear your elation and it matches what I feel when information eases the tension of a tough situation. Thanks for weighing in and sharing your thoughts Denise!

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