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Great Customer Service is Personal

On a recent business trip, I found myself standing at a remote gate in the far reaches of Denver International Airport. The Des Moines flight is often at B95, a gate that is within a stone's throw of Canada. I was hoping to get on as a stand-by flier, so I showed up plenty early and waited.30902626

As I was waiting, I watched as a girl was pushed to the gate in a wheel chair. I surmised that she had a bum leg from some sort of athletic injury and she was accompanied by, what appeared to be, her mother and sister. The wheelchair was being pushed by a small woman who was obviously not a native of the United States. If you spend any time in airports, you know that pushing passengers in wheelchairs is a menial job that is commonly performed by immigrants. I imagine that it is an entry-level position for people entering the workforce. The pay must be low and the hours must be long.

As the girl with the bum leg got out of the wheel chair, she intentionally turned to the little woman and gave her a big, long hug. Then the sister and mother gave the little woman hugs, in turn. I could tell from the body language that they were truly grateful and appreciative of this woman who was half their height and spoke broken English.

What does a diminutive woman who barely speaks English bring to her job to make these girls and their mother shower her with hugs? I have watched many wheelchairs getting pushed in airports. I don't see passengers smiling and doling out hugs very often.

The woman made a personal connection with her customers. They weren't just another "passenger," another "pick up," or another "drop off." In the time that she picked them up at their arrival gate and pushed them to B95 (Granted, it's a long hike. Plenty of time to chat.) she had become a friend.

Great Customer Service requires that you serve people. You can't serve a number in line, a phone call, an order, or a transaction. While your interaction may last seconds or minutes, you should treat each customer as a human being with a name and a worthwhile story. You should approach each customer as a person of inherent worth.

When you serve people your job begins to make a difference, even if a minor one, in a person's day. Your monotonous tasks take on new meaning. You're not just pushing passengers, you're lifting spirits. You're not just getting a tip, you're getting a hug along with it.

I didn't make my flight that afternoon, but for once the wait at the gate was worth it. I was blessed to watch a woman getting hugs from her customers. I was reminded of what great customer service is all about.


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Great post. Having come from customer-service background myself, I can really appreciate the reality of your comments. It's interesting how customer service isn't just suited to one profession, but overflows into almost every industry.

Thanks for the comment, Todd. You're absolutely right. Business is, by nature, a person-to-person interaction. The more "personal" touch we bring to the interaction, the greater opportunity we have to win and keep our customer's loyal business!

Great blog. I will add you to my list.

It is amazing how many people forget that business is personal, not just numbers. Thanks for reminding us.

Thanks, Peter! It's great to have you as a regular reader.

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