Take a Look in the Mirror

By Jim Whitt

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about some customer service experiences that served as lessons for what shouldn’t happen. Unfortunately those experiences are increasingly becoming the norm. So much so that when we have really great customer service experiences we are surprised.

I managed to have a couple of great customer service experiences on a trip to Houston this week for a speaking engagement. For all you road warriors out there, you know what a difference it makes when the people you fly and stay with make your journey just a little more enjoyable.

If you’re ever in Houston and need a place to stay I’d recommend the Hilton Americas. I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced the level of customer service from a hotel staff across the board as I did during my brief stay. Every employee that I interacted with greeted me with a smile and made me feel welcome and appreciated. I mean everybody — the doormen, shuttle drivers, security guards and clerks. I was so impressed that when I checked out I commented to the clerk that they had great customer service. I told her that somebody around there was doing something right. Her reply told me who that someone is, “We have a great general manager.”

I flew back to Tulsa on Southwest, my favorite airline. As we were getting ready to take off a man in a uniform stood at the front of the plane with a microphone in his hand. This is usually a flight attendant but not on this flight. “I am your captain,” he announced. “I love you guys! We’re going to Tulsa, St. Louis and Cleveland. And this is a jet so we’re going to go really fast!” With that he thanked us for flying Southwest and signed off once again saying, “I love you guys!” The passengers burst into applause! It set the tone for the whole flight. The entire crew was just as enthusiastic as the captain.

The common denominator for these excellent customer service experiences was this — the guys in charge. The staff at the hotel was a reflection of the general manager and the crew on the plane was a reflection of the captain. So leaders take note, if you don’t like what you’re seeing in your organization, take a look in the mirror. It’s a reflection of you.

As I was getting off the plane in Tulsa and walked past the cockpit I just couldn’t help myself. “Hey captain,” I hollered. “I love you man!” The crew all laughed and then a flight attendant spoke up, “Yeah, but he’s not giving you his Bud Light.”

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