On one of my recent business trips, I had limited choices for flights back to Halifax and I ended up choosing a very early morning flight – 5:40 am to be exact. Yikes!
Several people familiar with this flight assured me that a one-hour window was more than sufficient in terms of arriving at the airport. “Okay,” I thought. “I’ll order a taxi for 4:30 am.” I spoke with staff at the hotel’s front desk and was assured this wouldn’t be a problem. And the young woman thoughtfully offered me a wake up call. I declined.
Here’s how a cold, dark morning provided an important insight into customer service.
When I’m flying – or catching a train or bus or any form of transportation – I don’t need any help being ready. In fact, I have to admit I’m a bit ‘time obsessed’. I’m not sure where it comes from, but I absolutely need to be either early or on time for everything. Late is not an option and you don’t want to be around me when I’m running late. I panic. I get cranky. It isn’t pretty.
So the next morning I arrive in the hotel lobby at 4: 20 am, plenty of time to check out and get to the correct entrance for taxis. As we finish the paperwork the young man at the desk says, “Oh, 4:30 is a really busy time for taxis so they’ve said they’ll get here as soon as they can.”
This is not good. I’m startled and I immediately start to feel anxious, but given that it’s now 4:25 am, what can I do?
The loading zone for taxis is a single door at the end of a dark hall. And it’s dark and cold outside. If I step outside at this ridiculous hour, the door will automatically lock behind me. So I stand scanning the driveway for headlights, trying not to check the time … and vowing never stay at this hotel again.
And I realize that there was an opportunity here, an opportunity to serve. A quick call, either the night before or that morning, alerting me to the possible taxi delay could have eliminated my anxious wait in the dark. With this information, I would have chosen to have the taxi arrive at 4:15 am. (Another, saner, guest might choose to sleep an additional 15 minutes!)
Service excellence goes far beyond what can be trained. It involves being truly present to the customer or client in front of us, empathizing with their world view. From this vantage point, we can to see the possibilities to offer more, deliver the amazing experience, create loyalty.
The opportunities to serve are always there. It’s up to us to see them and act on them. (Tweet This!)
Oh … and the taxi was only delayed by 5 minutes. As usual, unnecessary anxiety on my part.
Enjoy your phone work everyone!