There is so much frustration with poor service in every sector of the economy that I thought you’d like to know that there’s hope. There still are some amazing people out there who want to do a great job and know how to provide great service. I will share some happy stories with you.

Not All Celebrities Are Snobs-—Thank You, Cody Johnson

My daughter and son-in-law have been avid fans of country singer Cody Johnson for several years, and their first dance at their recent wedding was to one of his songs. So not surprisingly, they were looking forward to attending his concert near their home this fall. Problem: The tickets went on sale while they were on their honeymoon, so by the time they were able to purchase them, they weren’t able to get two seats together. The seats were close but not next to each other. Not a tragedy, but not ideal.

Knowing that there are generally house seats at every venue and often some other seats that might be hidden to the public, I decided to see if there was a way to make some magic and find them seats together. I also thought that if I could actually get them different tickets, this would demonstrate the power of asking a question even if you’re a little uncomfortable doing it.

When I was young, I would never have made an unreasonable request like this to a stranger. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that even the most powerful people are human, too, and they can be surprisingly accessible and generous with their time or efforts. An important lesson in life.

A little searching found the “contact” page on Cody’s website, so I submitted a request, explaining the situation—I included a link to a video of their beautiful first dance—and I simply asked if there were any way that they could find alternate seats for these two loyal fans.

I sent the message, and my dog and I headed to the park for our daily walk.

Here’s the magic…

By the time I got back, I had an e-mail from someone on Cody’s team who had contacted the tour company. And within three hours, the request had been passed along to three different people…two adjoining seats had been located…and the initial tickets exchanged for “new and improved” seats.

My daughter and her husband were ecstatic (and had a spectacular time at the concert), and I was truly impressed—not so much with finding tickets, but with how fast the request was fulfilled by everyone along the chain.

We weren’t looking for a freebie, just assistance…and we got it in spades.

Friendly Even at Five in the Morning

Newark Airport in New Jersey overwhelms me, even though it was my local airport growing up. So when I needed to catch a crack-of-dawn flight from Newark recently, I wanted to find someplace to park that would not cost $40/day and where I felt safe since I was traveling alone. Some research led me to SNAP off-property parking. Reviews online looked good, so I booked it. But I will admit I was somewhat uncomfortable as I drove to its location in the bowels of an old industrial neighborhood several miles away from the airport. My fears couldn’t have been more unfounded as I had the best experience ever at a parking garage.

Even though the sun was barely up, the shuttle driver happily showed me where to park my car and placed my bag on the bus while I checked in at the office. The woman at the check-in desk and I had a few great bonding moments—sharing smiles and niceties and talking about how good it feels to be nice instead of cranky, the kind of behavior that passes through the parking lot office all too often. “Janelle” even was kind enough to save me a few dollars by charging me the prepaid rate even though I was paying upon arrival.

When I flew home, the shuttle was at the curb within moments of my call…my car was ready for me upon arrival at the parking lot…and again, all team members were full of smiles and gratitude. Everyone at SNAP truly took customer service to heart—it felt good for them and for me.

Helping Keep the Skies Friendly

After 50 minutes on hold with United Airlines—due to “heavier-than-usual call volumes”—which I have come to believe is a euphemism for, “We are understaffed and can’t or choose not to hire more people,” I was not a happy camper, but I needed to change a reservation and couldn’t do it online. At long last, “Brenda” came on the line and she, too, didn’t sound very happy.

I gave my usual friendly hello and kindly asked for assistance.

She wasn’t unfriendly but sounded rather worn out. I asked her what was up that she sounded so down. And yes, she was worn out…by the prior caller who was very unhappy with the stricter policies that airlines have developed for emotional-support animals on flights. When the caller was told “no, he could not bring his pet on the flight,” he became abusive to Brenda, who was simply doing her job and reporting the policy. There are rules that customer service reps can break, such as waiving certain fees, but people had been taking advantage of the guidelines about emotional-support animals and started bringing their horses, kangaroos and pigs on board, so the airlines have tightened the rules.

After giving her a few words of acknowledgement, Brenda shook off her prior experience and was fully attentive and helpful in making my change. She was well-trained, patient and easily accommodated what I needed.

An ounce of kindness returned a pound of satisfaction.

Advertising may be able to sell a product once, but product quality and service are what keeps customers coming back. The pandemic, the economy, the labor shortage all are real challenges, but customer service is vital to both customers and employees. It’s refreshing to know that there are those who still understand the value—and the pleasure—of delighting the customer. Let’s hope that this is the next “infection” to spread.

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