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A Lesson in Customer Satisfaction

Do you have a customer satisfaction killer (CSK) on your team?

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On a recent flight home, I had one of those experiences that moves me to write about it. These epiphanies are usually related to customer satisfaction – and this one was no exception.

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In my job, I have to travel a fair amount and find myself on airplanes fairly regularly. I don’t have any fancy status; at best, I have the initial level of status that gets me on the plane a little early. I just want to be clear that my recent experience was a regular old coach one and pretty mundane.

On this particular trip, I had to fly from Memphis to Houston on my journey home. It was a small jet with only one flight attendant. She was very friendly and had a great rapport with the customers. When she asked me what kind of soda I wanted, she even called me by my name. What? How did she know my name? I left this cramped, uncomfortable flight with a good feeling, and it was completely driven by this flight attendant’s attitude. I forgot all about the hard seats.

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Onto my next leg and into the big bird with decent room and seats. Four flight attendants and lots of breathing room… ahhh. Enter the customer satisfaction killer (CSK).

The CSK was a seasoned veteran, barking orders up and down the aisle and slamming carts around. She came to my row and my seatmate ordered water. As she handed the cup to the guy at the window, it spilled into my lap and just missed my computer. (Good thing because now I can write this). Her comment has not left me yet: “Gosh, I’ve just been dribbling stuff all day.” She quickly stuffed a few napkins at me and moved on – no “Sorry!” or any sort of apology.

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As I reflect back on the incident, I realize there’s a great business lesson here. Which attendant do you have working for you? All organizations will make mistakes. It’s the way our people handle them that makes the difference. I’ve learned over my career that empathy is not a teachable skill; it’s inherent in our DNA. It’s important to keep the people who have it in front of our customers, and our less skilled members out of the front lines.

Better be on the look-out for CSKs on your team!

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