Jackie made it all better

NOTE: This is Part 4 of a series of posts inspired by 40 very active hours of travel on March 13-14, 2015. This will complete the series. For Part 1 “I don’t care about $2, click here.  For Part 2 “Maybe I didn’t exist”, click here. For Part 3 “You sent my bag where?” click here.

After coming to grips with the fact that my suitcase would not be accompanying me during my 12 hour stay in Chicago, I still had to pick up my rental car and get to my destination.  So I boarded the shuttle to the rental car area.

That’s where I met Jackie.

Jackie had a “how ya doing, friend” kind of attitude.  Warm, engaging and genuine. At the risk of sounding redundant, she was real AND genuine!

After the morning I’d had, interacting with someone like Jackie (just on the above merits) was quite refreshing. But the story doesn’t end here.

Jackie pulled up my reservation and noticed that I had booked my car through a 3rd party “bundle” site (like Orbitz or Travelocity). It just seemed easier booking the number of flights, hotels and cars over such a short period.  As Jackie was about to point out, it’s not always cheaper that way.

She had a confused and bewildered look on her face when she said, “Do you know you are getting charged $68 for your car for one day?”

“No, it was in the bundle.” was my response.

“Well then,” she said with a wily smile, “you are going to love me. How does $11 sound?”

“How did you do that?” I asked.

“I changed your reservation… I re-booked it directly through our site.  Don’t go through the bundle sites, a lot of times they are much more expensive.”

“Wow” was about all I could muster.  I was amazed at her honesty and goodwill and I began to smile.  Of course I would need a GPS, but even with that added to the rental I was still getting a bargain.

As I returned the car later that day, a nice young man asked if everything was okay with the car.  I told him the car was fine, but that Jackie at the counter was a real rock star.  He agreed and said, “yes, she’s the best”.

So how did Jackie make it all better?  How did she make me forget all the other junk that happened in the last 28 hours. She cared. Plain and simple, she cared about me, my experience, and my wallet.  She cared enough to take action on my behalf.  She cared enough to right the wrongs (or overchargings) perpetrated by others.

Based on the young man’s comment when I returned the car, this was not an isolated incident. He has either seen Jackie in action or has heard other happy patrons say similar things about his colleague.

Thing is, you can’t teach people to care.  You can’t give them a handbook of the do’s and don’ts and expect them to care.  I would imagine Jackie cares because she is a role that allows her to do what she does best.  How many of us can say that?

How many of our employees would care a whole lot more if they were in roles that aligned with their natural talents and abilities?  How much happier would your customers be then?

That’s something that every leader should care about.

Thanks for reading!

PS – I debated whether or not to mention Jackie’s employer, because if what she did was against policy, I certainly wouldn’t want her getting in trouble for it.  In the end though, through her actions she created a sense of connection and loyalty that will guide my rental car decisions in the future.  So, Alamo, you have a great employee in Jackie, and I hope she gets the recognition she deserves for this and ALL of the great experiences she creates.  Oh, and I will always check your website first when in need of a rental car.





About the author: Some people don’t like to travel – Matt loves it! Not only does it provide for great stories like these, but it also allows him to do what he feels he does best – Helping Leaders Lead!  He does this through interactive keynotes and customized training workshops.  Click here for more details or to find out how to book Matt for your next event!

You sent my bag where?

NOTE: This is Part 3 of a series of posts inspired by 40 very active hours of travel on March 13-14, 2015.  There will be 1 more entry in this series.  For Part 1 “I don’t care about $2, click here.  For Part 2 “Maybe I didn’t exist”, click here.

On March 14, I was flying from Baltimore to Chicago in the morning, spending about 12 hours in town, then flying back out of Chicago to Orlando in the evening. My morning flight was on United, the evening flight was American.

At the Baltimore airport, I checked my bag with the skycap outside the terminal (no $2 fee this time!).  He said, I see you are going to Orlando (which technically was true, but not for a long time).  I said, “Yes, but I will be in Chicago most of the day.”

It was 5:00 am, so very little additional conversation took place.  The sky cap handed me my boarding pass and claim ticket, and off I went to find my gate and a little nourishment.

When I landed in Chicago, I had a short window to grab my bag, pick up my rental car and drive the 40 minutes to my destination.

At baggage claim, I was greeted by an eerie calm.  I thought maybe I had just gotten down there faster than everyone else, but at the carousel where my bag was supposed to be, there were no bags and no people. Having danced this dance before, I figured it was just a waiting game, so I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

A few more people showed up, and a few random bags came out. But still no sign of mine. The eerie calm around me was turning into worry as the window was closing for an on-time arrival at my destination.

So at this point, I approached the attendant who was in the area, a very nice woman named Linda who I would learn later has worked for United for 42 years. She very graciously told me that the procedure at O’Hare had changed, and that now they deal with the bags making connections first, then bring the bags terminating in Chicago down to baggage claim. She said the process could take up to 45 minutes to an hour.

So I decided to wait a little longer, and did so nervously. Finally, at the 45 minute mark, I approached Linda and asked if she could at least find out the status of my bag.

I handed her my claim ticket, and immediately she told me the news that I did not want to hear.

My bag had been checked all the way through to Orlando. And no matter how long I waited in baggage claim at O’Hare, my bag would not be joining me.

Two things were packed in my suitcase that I felt I could really use during my time in Chicago. One was a jacket, and the other was my GPS.

Luckily, I had put on a light sweater when leaving Baltimore, and knew that I could count on my phone or I could rent a GPS along with my rental car.

Those two problems averted, I got my rental car, turned up the heat and started driving to my final destination.

The question that still remains in my mind, and I would love to get your perspective on this as well, goes back to the actions of the skycap in Baltimore.

Did he provide good service by sending my bag directly to Orlando (and also, by the way, checking me in for my later flight on a different airline – which I didn’t know about until later), or was it bad service to assume that I wanted my bag checked all the way through to Orlando, not considering whether or not I would need it in Chicago?

On the one hand, he saved me from having to re-check the bag (and myself) in when I arrived for my evening flight. On the other, he also caused me undue stress and worry, caused me to be later to my destination that I wanted to be, and left me without some of the things I needed for the day.

So you have heard the story. What do you think? Good service, or bad service?

If you were the skycap in this situation, would you have done anything differently?

I look forward to your thoughts. Leave a comment below or email me.

Thanks for reading!





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