What would you do? Revealed!

In addition to Ashely’s comment about our service challenge, I got a number of phone calls and emails with roughly the same sentiment.  Give the couple some money and deal with the restaurant later.  One person said to give them all $4 back for their inconvenience.  I like that.

Well, if you are curious about what really happened – here it is.  Be ready to be underwhelmed.

It may not have been clear, but the couple with the undrinkable coffee was Linda and I.  We were on our way home from Michigan, and we were in the South Bend, IN Regional Airport.  It’s a relatively small operation (nothing wrong with that) where you have one big common area that serves multiple gates.  When we approached the gate agent with our 4 cups of coffee, this is what happened:

Us: Hi, we just purchased these 4 cups of coffee out of the vending machine, and three are undrinkable.  Two are actually only water.

Gate agent: The restaurant takes care of those, we have nothing to do with them.

Us: What are we supposed to do?

Gate agent: I guess you could go over to the restaurant and see what they say.

Us: Doesn’t that mean we have to go back through Security.

Gate agent: Yeah, but you’ve got a while ’till we board.

Us: What are the people at the restaurant going to do?

Gate Agent: I don’t know.  Like I said we don’t do anything with those.

Us: Is there anyway to call them over here?

Gate Agent: No.

Us: Don’t you have a phone?

Gate Agent: Yeah, but we don’t have their number.

Us: What would you do in an emergency?

Gate agent: I guess we could page them.

Us: Okay, let’s try that.

Gate agent (over intercom): Restaurant manager needed in the terminal. Restaurant Manager needed in the terminal. Then he turned back to us: I paged them, I guess we’ll see if they come.

Linda and I then walked away from the gate, more than a little frustrated with the lack of assistance. Of course I had to think about what caused this situation to take place. Lazy employee? Bad management? Broken processes?

That last one is interesting… the one thing that could have been this guy’s saving grace was being able to actually contact the restaurant directly. Is this broken process his fault?  Probably not, but I am sure it’s something that frustrates him every time it happens.  In fact, he may have even told someone about it, but nothing was done.

So what’s his perception now? People complain and I tell my boss about it.  Nothing happens to fix it, so I keep getting stuck in the same situation.  Apparently either they don’t listen to me or they don’t care about me or the customer.  I guess customer service isn’t as important as they say it is.

Do you think that’s a stretch?   I don’t, because unfortunately, I’ve seen it happen way too many times.  Of course I am speculating in this case, but it wouldn’t surprise me if SOMETHING like that was going on.

So taking this one step further… if management doesn’t listen to me, why should I listen to the customers? The way you treat your team is the way your team will treat your guests.

I think both parties wanted and needed to be listened to.  I may have referenced this before, but it’s worth repeating. Dr. Rick Bommelje says that being listened to invokes feelings so close to being loved, that most people can’t tell the difference.

If you feel that your team members and guests deserve a little love, listen to them. (And, don’t make them pay for a broken process!)

Thanks for reading!

What would you do? Part 1

This post is for those service-minded folks out there who look at situations all day long and say, “there’s a better way to handle that.”  Here’s your chance to make at least one situation better!

While traveling recently, my wife and I encountered a less than stellar example of customer service.  I will explain the situation, then you tell us what YOU would do! (I’ll share the real ending in a later post).

Here’s the situation:

You are a gate agent at a small regional airport.  The flight you are working that day is about to leave early (seriously – EARLY), and you will be starting the boarding process within the next 5 minutes.  Two passengers approach with 4 cups of coffee, or so it appears.

The couple shows you the contents of the cups, which is NOT coffee.  It was SUPPOSED to be coffee out of a vending machine in the gate area.  (Brief side note: we know not to expect gourmet coffee from a machine, but last time I checked neither coffee nor hot chocolate were clear.)  The couple spent $1 on each cup, three of them are un-drinkable.  Because you are the only person even slightly resembling an employee in the accessible area, they are coming to you for a resolution.

Now you have to decide what to do.  You know that you and your company have nothing to do with the vending machines or the quality of their products.  You have no way to give a refund or offer compensation.

Additionally, the people who are responsible for this machine work in the restaurant, which is outside of the secure gate area and on the other end of the terminal.  To make matters worse, you have no way to contact them.


As the gate agent, what would YOU do?  Leave a comment with your thoughts.

Get recognition for your great work with IAAPA’s Brass Ring Awards

On behalf of the IAAPA Human Resources Committee…

The Brass Ring Awards have been a symbol of excellence for attractions industry marketing for years. This year, the Brass Ring will be the ultimate prize for many IAAPA awards!

Honoring excellence and achievement in a variety of disciplines and categories, the 2010 Brass Ring Awards recognize the very best in the following areas:

Human Resources
Live Entertainment
Family Entertainment Centers (FECs)

Winners of the 2010 Brass Ring Awards will be announced at a new special event on Wednesday, Nov. 17 at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2010.

2010 IAAPA Service Awards
The IAAPA Service Awards honor those who have served IAAPA and the industry in a variety of ways. The IAAPA Service Awards will be presented during the General Managers and Owners Breakfast at IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando, Fla. on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2010.

2010 IAAPA Hall of Fame Awards

The IAAPA Hall of Fame Awards pay tribute to industry legends who have made significant contributions to the worldwide attractions industry. The 2010 IAAPA Hall of Fame Awards will be presented during the Kickoff Event at IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando, Fla. on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2010.

Claude’s Critical Cold Call Mistakes

First, I should mention that I am not an expert when it comes to sales or cold calling. I did work as a telemarketer for 2 weeks in high school and hated every minute of it. My experience for this particular post and the advice I will share comes from being the recipient of a particularly annoying cold call. I know how it impacted me, and I am sure I’m not alone.

About a week ago, we got a call on the “business line” at the house. Linda answered and I heard her say, “may I tell him who’s calling?”.  Apparently the caller said something like, “he’s expecting my call”, without identifying himself. Linda handed the phone to me and it turned out to be someone I never heard of, telling me that a mutual friend referred him to me, and that she was supposed to tell me he would be calling. He (we’ll call him “Claude”) says he likes to help small businesses and wanted to get together for coffee.

Here’s where it all went wrong:

1. He kept saying he wanted to talk about “your business”. When I asked which business he meant, he couldn’t seem to remember, or he didn’t know. Strike (and critical mistake) #1.

When I told Linda about the call she was suspicious. She has a good nose for these sorts of things, so it got me thinking. Which lead to strike 2…

2. I decided to ask our mutual friend if in fact she knew this guy and if she referred him to me. She knew him, but never mentioned my name. Her guess was that he went fishing through her LinkedIn contacts to see what he could find. Not cool in my mind, and Strike 2.

This isn’t baseball, so I didn’t feel a chance at a third strike was warranted. I sent him a very direct note stating that we would not be getting together because he misrepresented himself and lied.

What I really took away from this experience was that the call etiquette is really the same whether it’s for sales, an interview, or any other reason you would be calling where ultimately, the relationship is going to matter.

1. Know who you are calling. It sounds simple, but it’s powerful. If you are calling William at ACME but ask for or refer to Doug at XYZ, your credibility is shot. You may be calling a ba-zillion companies or applicants, but to them they are the only one.

2. Be honest. It’s WAY too easy these days to check on whether John knows Jay or Ben knows Jim, so don’t represent yourself as something that you aren’t. As in my situation, the truth came out and “Claude” didn’t get what he was looking for.

Here’s the other side of that coin. A gentleman named O. Lee Mincey sent me a note (through LinkedIn, ironically) a few years ago stating that he had seen my profile, it seemed we had a lot in common and it would be good for us to be “connected”.  I agreed and to this day he is someone I respect and want to see succeed.

“Claude”, on the other hand, will only be the main character in a story about what not to do when cold calling.

How do you want to be remembered?