This winter is a huge challenging one for air travel. Hopefully, you haven’t found yourself on a cancelled flight. I wasn’t so lucky and while waiting on standby, I was aggravated by the lack of customer support from the airline. But then, I met one ticket agent (let’s call her, “Grace”) who “got it” and I salute three principles she used that made many stranded travelers feel a lot better about their experience. These lessons can affect any business.
Information is priceless. People get frustrated quickly if they don’t know what’s going on. The panic that comes with cancelled travel plans is multiplied whenever you can’t get a straight answer from airline staff. Too often it seems like you’re purposely sent in to a long line only to learn that the agent at the front does not have any idea what’s going on. Grace got on the loudspeaker and admitted that she didn’t have most of the answers for the hundreds of individuals have been waiting to catch a standby flight. But she did explain the process of getting everyone to their destination. Grace also let people know that after they were in the standby system, they were inside until they got on a plane. This kept many from worrying about whether they’d have to re-register every time they tried to catch a fresh flight on standby.
Listen to concerns but don’t forget your needs. While Grace was willing to hear traveler questions and concerns, she realized that she had been asked exactly the same questions again and again. This kept her from doing her other duties, including getting rimborso volo cancellato as many standby customers on the following flight. So she gave out all the info again and asked that folks leave her alone. And she asked for those of us who had been waiting for some time to let any newcomers know what was going on. By enlisting the crowd, she gave us something do to and allowed her to serve us better.
Humor never hurts. There’s a lot of tension within an airport when it’s filled with unhappy people. Grace would use humor in her announcements and that brought a look to even the most tired traveler. “Trust in me,” she said with a sarcastic smile, “We would like to get you out of here as much as you do.” That sentence let everyone realize that this was a difficult day for individuals with tickets in addition to the airlines. By using humor to acknowledge this time, an embarrassing situation became less adversarial.
My only regret from that day was that I forget to get Grace’s name or employee number. I could have sent a letter of recommendation to her airline about her excellent customer service. For now, i’d like to just say, Grace, you had been amazing!