Service + Trust = Remarkable Moments

You know it's remarkable when good customer service jumps out at you so dramatically that it makes you realize how much bad customer service is out there in all industries. I had two moments occur in the span of a few days that made me realize that customer service may not be completely, 100% dead.

It's been quiet this week as I traveled to Europe for some business. I normally fly United and while I am not in love with any airline I have little to complain about other than having to go through Chicago O'Hare most of the time. To avoid what is usually a mess at O'Hare and a less than 50% chance of making your flight on time, I elected to go through Washington Dulles.

As I was waiting at the gate in Indianapolis, the agent proactively called me and said something to the effect of, "I see your going to Frankfurt, I'd like to see you make it and I recommend that we re-route you through Chicago." So my curiosity was piqued and I dived in a little further asking what the issue was. She indicated that weather was holding some things up and the flight to Washington was likely to be delayed. She threw in the caveat though that the pilot thought that my flight would get out without a problem.

So here I am needing to get to Frankfurt without delay or otherwise miss the meeting I was going over for. I had a gate agent recommend that I re-route through an airport that I personally don't trust and a pilot via a third-party who was confident that it wouldn't a problem.

I looked her in the eye and asked what would you do? She replied, "I'd go through Chicago." So I put my fate and trust in her hands and you know what? She was dead-on. The Chicago flight was an hour later than the Washington flight, which hadn't even left as I took off to Chicago. I made it to Frankfurt a little later than originally expected but that had no impact on the meetings I needed to attend.

To me, that exemplified a few things, first that was a great service moment from Gail at United in Indianapolis. She didn't have to do that and the fact is, there have been many times when I have been in the same situation and that hasn't happened.

Second, I really felt like she had my best interests in mind when I asked her what she would do. While I almost exclusively travel on United for business that one moment, which cost her and United nothing, it definitely endeared me more to United.

Customer Service Moment #2, I bought a Poulan Pro blower last summer to replace my previous Poulan Pro blower that died after 4 years of blowing...I'm not necessarily a devotee to Poulan, but Lowes carries it and it does the job I need it to do.

So when I yank the cord out of my less than 1 year old blower, I'm not real happy and actually consider scrapping it and going to get another one. It was still under warranty and even if it is not the top of the line model I think that it should last for more than a year. So I take it back to Lowe's to get fixed. I have to sign paperwork pre-authorizing work up to $75, I contest this a bit considering the darn thing only cost me $100 and I am told that it is standard, can't be changed, blah, blah. I also read the fine print on the warranty and that does not cover cords. So now I am thinking I am going to have to pay $75 for a new cord when I could just go get a blower. Well, they fixed my blower and it didn't cost a penny and technically it should have. Somebody had to pay the service shop and I am not sure it is Poulan because of the wording in the warranty. While I normally lean more towards Lowe's than Home Depot anyway this small moment also endears me to Lowe's.

The point of the story? Customer service takes very little but can have a huge impact and create loyalty. The other point is that good customer service is hard to come by and remarkable when it does happen.
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