Ahead of the Curve

I have had pretty good luck traveling this past year or so but last Friday my luck ran out. I arrived at O’Hare Airport for a late flight home and the dance began. 

First, it was announced we were going to be delayed. Then we boarded. Next, the pilot announced there were some “minor” mechanical difficulties that maintenance was checking. Then we deplaned. More waiting. Finally, our plane was de-commissioned, but, they found us another plane at another gate. Re-boarded. Waited another hour for “catering.” Arrived at our destination at 3 a.m.

As I staggered in around 4 a.m., I did a last check of my emails and there was an email from the airline apologizing, and awarding me 10,000 miles. Two things came to mind:


  1. They beat me to the punch. By jumping on the issue they preempted my complaint which would have come later that day.

  3. 10,000 miles is not an unimpressive award. I thought it did a pretty good of sending me the message that they really took the problem and their relationship with me, seriously.


The key to customer service when a problem comes up is speed and intensity. The problem needs to be faced head on and fast, and with a no nonsense solution and/or a serious token of our apologies.

We have all been in running arguments with companies who shuck and jive and avoid accountability, or offer us something insignificant in the process. Sometimes, when emotions are running high in the heat of a problem, it can represent an enhanced opportunity to connect with our customers if we jump on it.  

I am still not happy about that long night, but I respect the way the gate agent communicated with us as well as the company’s fast and serious follow up.

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