One of the most important advantages an airline can use, is it’s customer service. Flights are rescheduled due to delays, weather and maintenance all the time. There’s no getting around it, they are going to disappoint their customers from time to time. This is why airlines put such an emphasis on hiring employees who are especially skilled at customer service.
Airport Terminal Services, who hires airline employees, states just above their job openings: “Every minute of every day our team is making air travel possible – safely, on-time and with the highest level of service in the industry!”
In other words, their top three priorities are 1. Safety 2. Staying on Schedule and 3. Customer Service
In the International Air and Hospitality Academy program overview it says, “The greatest edge an airline may have over the competition is its quality of customer service.”
In a Forbes article called “The Power of the Personal: An Airline Customer Experience Fairytale”, is the emboldened statement:
“Personalization + Customer Service = Brand Loyalty”
Since customer service is such an advantage to an airline, employees with great customer service skills would be invaluable to them. This would mean, job security. Let’s face it, if an employee put their mind to it, they could easily dominate the competition when it comes to customer service. Most people don’t think about that when they head into work. Many people, go to work, do their job, and go home. They don’t consider what value they could bring to the customer, or the employer. Which, in the end, would bring value to the employee.
Who would be the first to get promoted? Who would be the last to be cut from the team? Who would get the best letter of recommendations?
The employee who went above and beyond in customer service.
Customer service can come naturally to some, but there are techniques that are used to hone these skills. There are many, but for now we will just talk about one. Empathy.
Business Insider posted a short example called “The Apple Genius Training Manual Includes a Basic Guide to Empathy”. The post explains,
“The Method? Emphasizing right away that they understand how you feel,” The post shows a photo of Apple’s Genius Bar training manual. In it the employees are given examples of how to show empathy using different scenarios. The employees could use phrases like:
“I may know how you feel”
“I can see how you’d feel that way”
“I can appreciate how you feel”
In the “Power of the Personal…” Forbes article references above, the writer explains a heart warming experience she had with American Airlines over the Thanksgiving holiday. It was her daughter’s first time flying. She writes,
“The night before we left, I peeked in at her as she slept. She was clutching a note to her beloved fairies, letting them know we were going on vacation, but that we’d be back. Inspiration struck, and I wrote a note to whoever the person was that I’d meet at the airline desk when we arrived in the morning.”
Needless to say the airport was busy, her flight had taken off late and she started to realize, her request had been understandably put on the backburner. She writes,
“Then, a glimmer of hope: A message from the captain hinted that we’d picked up speed, as though there were some sort of magic assisting, and that we’d arrive in Chicago on time‚ close to the wire—but on time.
My daughter looked at me and whispered, “The fairies!” There are moments I recall when I need to remember that there is good in the world. Her face in that instant is one of them.
With about 15 minutes remaining before landing, again we heard from the captain, who conveyed the following, ‘I do want to make a special announcement. As you can tell earlier today, we had a little magic working in our favor. That magic was actually a message that came across that said some fairies are helping to guide us along our way. More specifically, the message was to a young passenger on board today…’
He told the passengers where my daughter was sitting, and when she peeked her head up, they started clapping and giving her thumbs-up signs. There were smiles all around and, I confess, some tears from me and at least one other woman that I made eye contact with.”
It wasn’t just the pilot that made that story happen. A whole team was involved, from a loving mother to the AA team member at the front desk, thru the channels of other team members to the pilot. All during an incredibly busy season. Those employees had every excuse to just do what they were paid to do, but they took the opportunity to do more.
In a Live Chat post, there is another heart warming story from the team at Southwest Airlines. A man was rushing to get to his three year old grandson who had been beaten to death and was being taken off of life support. He caught a flight from LAX as soon as he could. Even though he had gotten there 2 hours before his flight, the lines were so long that he was 12 minutes late for his flight. But the plane had waited for him. When the man finally got onto the plane, he approached the pilot to thank him. The pilot said:
These stories are incredible examples of airline employees who excelled at customer service by using empathy. Any airline, would be wise to continue to hire staff members like those in the stories. And employees would be wise to leverage their skill sets by using customer service techniques.
To quote Maya Angelou,
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”