Be the benchmark for customer service
Juliana, an executive for a high tech sports manufacturer, told me:
“I had an absolutely wonderful time on a United Airlines flight last week. Here is my note to the Captain of the plane and his response.
Dear Captain Flanagan,
I was fortunate enough to be a passenger on your flight from Portland to Chicago on Tuesday, September 8th. Being greeted by you as I boarded the plane and given a card that gave me the opportunity to learn about the amazing airplane I was going to be traveling in was extremely uplifting. Halfway through our flight, I surprisingly received a personalized note thanking me for my business and recognizing my loyalty to United. It brought a smile to my face and touched my heart. To top it off, the card you handed me initially had your signature on it! I traveled back home on another United flight and had the bottle of wine I received safely packed so I can enjoy it as well as the experience it represents with my husband. I have already shared my experience with many people and will continue to joyfully talk about it with others back home. I look forward to inspiring others about your service gestures in a presentation to our Nike sales team. I am confident it will motivate them to give service beyond expectations to both our retailers and consumers.
I have had he tremendous pleasure of working for Nordstrom for 16 years and for Nike for 14 years. Customer service means a lot to me and I am so grateful and appreciative when I am made to feel so special. This is the first time I have had such an amazing experience such as you provided. Your positive example even flowed to the wonderful flight attendants that were on that flight – a reminder on how impactful a leader can be to his or her team.
Thank you for making my flight across the country so enjoyable. You are truly creating a legacy at United. I look forward to the next opportunity when I am a passenger on your flight.
With tremendous appreciation and admiration,
I then received this response from him.
Thank you for your kind words. They are appreciated. Statistics show that for every compliment or complaint received, there are 100 others thinking of doing the same thing. Feedback is so important to know you are on the right track. Thank you.
I have a few work philosophies and they have proved effective over the years. I believe that each customer deserves a good travel experience, whether on United, American, Delta . . . train, bus, taxi, or with your best friend in his car. You deserve a safe and comfortable ride.
Treat each customer as if it is their first flight and have no expectations. I lead by example and this helps motive the crew to do a better job. When they see me stow bags, assist moms with strollers and answer customer questions as if it was the first time I heard it, they are brought back to their new hire days.
It is easier to keep the customers you have than to find new ones. United has a devoted sales team to find new customers and it is time consuming and expensive but necessary. My job is somewhat easier and less expensive and that is to provide safe and customer-oriented service. If I do my job, the folks in the sales department will have less pressure on themselves.
If you ever need new material to motivate your sales team, Google “Capt Denny Flanagan”. You will find a WSJ article and videos from the Today Show, Good Morning America, and the Early Show. Feel free to use them as you will. In the service business, the recipe for success is quite easy. Anticipate your customers needs and exceed their expectations.
I’m not sure where the Nike office is in Portland, but when I have a long layover, I can come over and speak to your sales team. Juliana, if you are ever on one of my flights again, stop up at the cockpit and say hello. If we have time, I will go out and buy us a Starbucks.
Wow! You could say Captain Denny defines extra mile service.