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A Tale of Exemplary Customer Service

Flying is frustrating, especially when it doesn’t’t work well. Right now I am sitting in the Colorado Springs airport, delayed for three hours because of thunderstorms in Chicago. Twice I have had to seek the help of a gate agent to deal with the changing situation. Flights were so delayed that I arrived at the airport in time to switch to a flight that, had it left on time, I couldn’t’t have caught. But, with the delay, there it was so, I was able to get a seat

Of course after the switch was made, an announcement came over the speaker system that the flight I had just switched to was cancelled. I bolted for the gate agents’ desk. Fortunately, the line was short. I got the same gate agent who had helped me earlier. After some good-natured ribbing for switching back to my original flight, she gave me my new boarding pass.

As I sit here writing this, it was announced that my flight will board in a few minutes. It’s been three hours , but finally the flight to Chicago is going. Maybe I’ll get lucky once more and still catch my plane to Burlington tonight.

Before I get up to board the plane, I look over at the four gate agents who have been handling the arrangements and derangements for passengers for a bunch of flights that have been delayed because of the Chicago weather. I am struck by how calm everyone has been for the past few hours, passengers and gate agents alike. Not one cross word directed at an agent. Agents who smiled and who at least seemed to work with each customer to the customer’s satisfaction.

I’ve read how frustrated people have been with their experiences with gate agents. I’ve been there and felt that frustration and have wanted to lash out, too. But I realized it was time to compliment these gate agents because they did their job well. In fact, they did their job very well.

The words, “Flight 4535 is going to board NOW,” were music to my ears and to the other passengers as well. And, I suspect they were music to the gate agents’ ears, too.

On the plane passengers were giddy. They were going to make their connections or get home that night after all. But as we chatted with each other as we took our seats, there was a common refrain to the conversation: “I’m glad I’m on the plane and we’re going, but I sure wouldn’t want [the gate agents’] job.”

Customer service is something we hear a lot about. But, it’s really about people treating each other in a civil manner, working as best they can to resolve a problem. For three hours today I watched customers and gate agents together do just that.

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