Does Your Customer Service "Take Off" Under Pressure?

By Patrick Thean

dateMon, Mar 18, 2013 @ 02:57 PM

"Where is he?" 

"Seat 7A!" 

"Sir, I am going to need you to get off the plane... now!  And if you resist, I will have to call security." 

"No.  Why do I have to get off the plane?" screen_shot_2013-03-18_at_2.46.07_pm

"Because you were the last one to check in!" 

"I am not getting off the plane." 

"Ok!  I am going to call security now!"

That was the drama that ensued on US Airways 3770 from Charlotte to Philadelphia before the flight finally took off after someone else kindly volunteered to get off the overbooked flight.  The other passengers were outraged.  How is it the passenger's fault that US Airways overbooked the flight?  And when did it become ok to treat a customer with such disrespect and rudeness?  You would have thought that they were talking to a criminal or someone who really did something very wrong.  There was no "please" or "would you be kind enough to help us?"  None of that!  Just get that customer off the plane so that we can take off and be on time.

Then to our surprise, a US Airways employee stepped on board to take the vacated seat.  At least the kind passenger who volunteered received a first class seat on a later flight to Philadelphia.

This was bad execution on so many fronts.  We can learn something from any experience, good or bad.  For bad experiences, it serves as a model for what not to do. 

Here are a list of execution No-Nos:

  • Don't be rude to your customers.  Remember... They pay for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • Need a favor?  Ask nicely and be polite.
  • Own it.  Don't blame your customers when it's your own process that failed.

Do you have any bad processes?  A bad process caused the US Airways employee to behave poorly under stress.  She was not bad. She was following and completing a bad process.  Make sure that your processes do not achieve performance at the expense of customer service.



Patrick Thean


Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images