With all of the changes going on in the airline industry over the last few years, it has definitely been more the exception rather than the rule when getting great service while traveling.  However, I had a pleasant surprise a few months ago while traveling back home on United Airlines.

Once everyone had boarded the plane and we were all getting settled in our seats, expecting to hear the flight attendant start making their welcoming and safety comments, the captain himself got on the intercom and started talking to us.  He didn’t stand behind the little wall that tends to hide the flight attendant from the passengers, but instead stood halfway down the aisle of first class and addressed the entire plane.

He welcomed us all on the flight and thanked us for our business and choosing to fly United.  He acknowledged that we have a choice in airlines, and he hoped that this flight would be a great experience for all of us.  He then went on to introduce  the rest of his “team” as he called them,  his co-pilot and flight attendants, saying that they all work together to make the flight enjoyable and safe.  He encouraged us to ask the flight attendant if we needed anything during the flight and thanked us one more time before he handed it off to the attendant to finish all of the safety messages.   As I sat there, I couldn’t help but smile to myself and think how a simple gesture like personally welcoming the passengers set the tone for a pleasant flight and put the customers in a good mood.

So what can your organization learn from this?  Here are three simple ways to create a stronger team and build customer loyalty:

  1. Always look for opportunities to practice what you preach to your employees about making their customers feel welcome by talking to customers, saying a simple hello, asking how their day is, or if there is anything else to help them with.
  2. Remind your employees to look for the 1% better concept—the little things you can do while interacting with customers that may not be a huge thing, but may be huge in the eyes of that customer.
  3. Constantly look for opportunities to praise your team members when you see them delivering great service to their customers.  They will feel valued and acknowledged for their efforts and want to continue to serve their customers in a positive way.

I actually was a little sad getting off the plane at the end of the flight knowing I may not see that pilot again on another flight, but happy that he had restored my faith in the airlines  and knowing there are leaders out there that really do want to make a difference.

Kathy CuffApril 6, 2013