LESLIE CRISS: Good customer service should be a given in any situation

“Merely satisfying customers will not be enough to earn their loyalty. Instead, they must experience exceptional service worthy of their repeat business and referral.” – Rick Tate

“Customers don’t expect you to be perfect. They do expect you to fix things when they go wrong.” – Donald Porter, British Airways

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LESLIE CRISS

LESLIE CRISS

Customer service is a huge part of the mission of the Daily Journal.

We care about our customers. And that’s a good thing.

We could all make a list – probably a lengthy one – of positive experiences we’ve had with businesses locally and abroad who also believe fervently in the importance of great customer service.

Early Thursday morning when I let go of a large chunk of change at the drive-through window at Tupelo, Water & Light, I was not feeling very joyous.

But the TW&L employee who took my check, smiled and greeted me cheerfully, also made certain she told me to have a wonderful day as I was about to drive away.

Her kindness went a long way to improve my mood. And I appreciate it.

Last Monday, I drove friends Cheryl and McCoy to Memphis to catch a plane to New York City. Their flight was to leave at 11 a.m.

I was on my way back to Tupelo when I learned their plane had boarded on time, they’d sat for 30 minutes and then were told to leave the plane because the door would not close.

Cheryl, who has a stellar sense of humor and a gift for making folks laugh, kiddingly asked a flight attendant as they were heading back to the terminal if the door had been closed when the plane had landed at the airport earlier.

“Did she laugh?” I asked.

She did not. Instead, she gave my friend an unkind glare. And that behavior, as I understand, set the tone for the rest of the day’s dealings with the airline folks.

The two sat in the airport more than an hour before reboarding the plane. However, rather than take off, they sat in a hot plane for another hour while being told the crew was “waiting on paperwork.”

The plane finally left at 2:15 that afternoon, making my friends miss their connecting flight in Washington, D.C.

In D.C., the airline – US Airways – quickly gave boarding passes for a flight to NYC to the passengers who’d stayed so long in Memphis. Moments later, the boarding passes were revoked because there weren’t enough passengers and the airline would lose money.

Instead of arriving in NYC at 6 p.m., as they would have in a perfect world, my friends arrived at nearly 11 p.m.

Here’s the deal: Most folks – my friends included – understand completely that unexpected things may happen in any situation. Still and yet, when things go wrong, kindness and humor and sincere apologies can go a long way to make customers feel less irate.

We pay way too much for airline tickets these days to expect – and receive – anything less than exceptional customer service.

Some folks sitting in the big boardrooms just don’t get it.

The good news is: Some folks do.

leslie.criss@journalinc.com