Sunday, March 20, 2011

United Gate Agent WOWS With a Simple Act of Kindness

I fly a lot. When I say a lot, I mean a LOT. This is not a plea for sympathy or an act of bragging. It’s just to give context to what happened to me — a simple act of kindness that I have never experienced in all the times I have flown.

I was sitting at a United Airlines gate waiting for my plane from Chicago to Detroit, when the gate agent called my name. This alone surprised me. Although I am an “elite” flyer on many airlines I am “nothing” to United Airlines. Usually you’re only called to the gate if you are going to be upgraded, which I knew was impossible.

I walked up to the gate agent, Liz Williams, who said to me, “I noticed that you were sitting at the back of the plane and I wondered if you wanted to move closer to the front? I have a window seat that you might find more comfortable.”

WOW! I was totally taken aback.

No one in all the miles I have flown has ever asked if I wanted to move my seat for my own comfort. There have been hundreds of times when I have begged a gate agent for a more comfortable seat. Mostly, I am treated as a bother. “Sigh” they usually respond, “Let me see what I can do.”

Sometimes I am upgraded when the computer spits out my name. And as much as I appreciate being upgraded, I appreciated this event even more.

I realized that it meant that I was no longer only a “filled seat”, no longer a bother. Ms. Williams thought of me as a human being with needs, wants and desires.

This act of one person helping out another person wowed me.

Wowing the customer didn’t cost Ms. Williams or the airlines a single cent. But it had a huge effect. It made me think, “Wow, maybe I should fly United more often?”

I translated her one act of kindness as an example of how United will treat me in the future.

What simple act of thoughtfulness can you do to wow your customer?

1 comment:

Jim Watson said...

Hi Laurie,

I think we've all had experiences like yours at United - an act of kindness that surprised us.

And you are soooo right - these simple, powerful and memorable acts that drive positive word of mouth occur at no cost to the companies whose employees deliver them.

It astounds me that companies will spend millions on superficial promotions that are forgotten after the receipt is printed, instead of investing in training employees to treat humans like humans, and drive true loyalty.

Jim Watson