High Flying Service

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High Flying Service

As you probably know, I work mainly with credit unions, the industry whose mantra is “not for profit, not for charity, but for service.” Few industries pride themselves on caring about the service experience more. Recently, I had an experience that shocked my already high expectations.

While on the phone with a representative about a mundane request, I got the following response: “I want to work a little harder for you today.”

Guess who said that to me?

Was it my local credit union where I have all my personal and business accounts and trust to take care of me like no other organization?

No. Believe it or not, it was Delta.

Wait, what? Insert record screech! Did I seriously say an airline? Yes, I did.

A few weeks ago I called Delta because I needed to cancel a flight due to a family emergency. I expected to “bank” the ticket for a future use and also fully expected to pay a change fee. (Not only did I “expect” it, I had just gone through this experience with USAirways five minutes before regarding the same situation, so my expectation was valid.)

Instead, Sherry, the Delta agent who answered my call, immediately showed empathy and said, “I’m so sorry you’re having a tough time. I’d really like to work harder for you today. If you don’t mind letting me take a few notes about your situation, I will update your file so that you don’t have to pay a change fee in the future.”

I was so taken aback by her kindness, I nearly started crying. Not because I was saving $200 but because someone stopped to say, “I care about what you’re going through.”

I went on to spill my guts about how my brother has stage 4 melanoma and had been rushed to the hospital the night before due to a seizure. I told her how I didn’t feel comfortable traveling while he was in the hospital under those conditions.

Not only did she record my story and the specific details about where he was hospitalized, she told me that her mother was facing breast cancer, so she understood how a diagnosis like that affects the entire family.

In a world where we track our daily movements, humorous exchanges, bargains buys, sports scores, and of course, service experiences, it’s never been more important to provide blog-worthy experiences. Look at me, I’ve shared my story countless times in the last few weeks.

Delta also gained a loyal customer. Not only will I choose Delta moving forward, they also earned my willingness to give them the benefit of the doubt and forgive their inevitable delays or mistakes — simply because that one phone representative took the time to show me that as a company, Delta has made a choice to empower their team to personalize the customer-service experience and show how they care about people.

But the question is, when an airline has raised the bar on service to that level, how do we provide experiences that make OUR members say, “Wow, they really care about me”? It matters every time we interact with members, but it matters more, when it matters most – when someone is dealing with an unexpected crisis…or celebrating a personal milestone…or even ranting about a mistake.

Ultimately, it boils down to this: when your members are taking the time to talk to you, turn on your listening ears and let them feel heard.

And now today, weeks after after my phone call with Sherry, as I gaze out over the clouds while my seat is in it’s full and upright position, knees are sufficiently cramped, and my shoulders are being crushed by the professional athlete sitting next to me, I still say, “Thank you, Delta. You rock.”


Have you rocked someone’s world today?