THINKING BUSINESS
a blog by Chris Barrow

So here's a story about customer service for you….

I arrive at Belfast International this evening at 18:00 and walk to the front of the Speedy Boarding line. (Moral – people over 50 will pay for the upgrade) The check in guy says to me “Evening sir, I need you to know that there is a 90-minute delay on all flights this evening due to problems with French air-traffic control.” I respond with: “Can I tell you I was at a funeral on Wednesday and it wasn’t mine. If all I have to worry about is a flight delay, I’m a lucky man.” He replies: “I wish more people could take that view – I’ve been dealing with people hurling abuse at me all day.” I say: “Well you are only doing your job mate.” He checks me on my flight and thanks me for being so reasonable. The airport is like a cattle market – so I use my Priority Pass card to access the business lounge. (Moral – people over 50 will become members of a tribe that allows them privileges) I settle down to use the gift of an unexpected 2 hours to answer all my emails before the weekend, make a few phone calls, catch up with Facebook. At 20:30, there is a call to the lounge to say that my Bristol flight is cancelled. Panic, despair – 30 seconds. Then into solution mode. Returning to Easyjet check in, I discover a line of 200 people and, at the front, voices raised at the beleaguered check in team. I also spot my check in bloke sat back at Speedy Boarding. I walk over to him: “I know I’m lucky to be alive today but I’m also missing home and my woman – is there anything you can do to help me?” He responds: “I shouldn’t be doing this but let me have a look. There is a 10:10 flight tomorrow morning to Bristol and there are two seats left, would you like one?” “Yes” I reply. “The problem is”, he adds, “if I book you on this flight I cannot get you a complimentary hotel room – you would have to join the back of the queue.” It takes a heartbeat for me to say “I don’t need a free hotel room – I need to get home to my woman.” He looks left and right and then his fingers scrabble over the keyboard. The phone rings and he answers. I hear, “he is standing in front of me now.” And then “thanks” to the person on the line. “You are on” he announces – and hand writes my boarding details for tomorrow. I thank him profusely and he thanks me for being so reasonable. (Moral – if you take a minute to be nice to somebody – it can pay you back a thousand-fold.) I exit the airport with my reclaimed bags and climb in a cab. “Where to?” “The Hilton Templepatrick please.” I call the hotel from the cab. “I wonder if you can help me – I’m a Diamond VIP card holder and I’ve just had a cancelled flight – I need B&B for one night only.” The expected reply….. “No problem sir, we can have a room ready for you in 10 minutes.” My room is an upgrade to deluxe at no extra charge. (Moral – points make prizes and people over 50 will stay loyal to a brand that stays loyal to them – and doesn’t employ idiots) I’m writing this in the bar, with a large Jameson and the prospect of a good night’s sleep and a strong intention to enjoy a good Irish breakfast. There are still 200 people at the airport – probably being rude. They will be flying to Stansted, arriving at midnight and bussed to Bristol for 03:00. I’m hoping to be home by 14:30 – and still time to enjoy Falmouth and some quality time with Annie before our special weekend guests arrive. I can’t help thinking that if I hadn’t smiled and appreciated my check in guy – the night would have been very different.

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