A couple of months ago I was flying from Savannah, Georgia to Chicago on a business trip. I made it to the Savannah airport in time to call a client while waiting for my Chicago flight to board.
As the call was winding down, I heard my flight being announced for boarding, so I ended the call, quickly packed up my belongings, and headed to the gate. Halfway to Chicago, at 30,000 feet, I decided to pull out my computer to do a little work—and realized I had left it on the seat next to me in the gate area at the Savannah airport!
I started to panic thinking about what I was going to do without my computer—I needed it for the Chicago workshops I was to conduct. After a lot of self-talk to calm down, I put together my plan of next steps. Upon arrival in Chicago, I immediately called the Savannah airport and asked for the lost and found department. I was transferred to Security. I quickly explained what had happened to the woman on the other line, who listened patiently to my story. She then asked me to describe my laptop.
“Well, I know it’s black and I think it’s a Lenovo.”
She said, “Are you Escondido?”
This was music to my ears and I responded, “YES!” (Our office is based in Escondido, California and when she turned on my computer that was the first word on the screen.)
What followed in the next 48 hours was nothing short of a miracle. I was going to be in three different hotels in the next three days. This wonderful woman, LeeAnn Norris from the Savannah airport security department, helped me every step of the way through numerous phone calls and emails to make sure my computer finally found me. She never transferred me to someone else, nor did she say “This isn’t my job.” She took me by the (virtual) hand and reassured me she would see this situation through until the computer was back in my possession. And she did.
Leaders, my hope is that you do these three simple things with your employees to make them feel empowered in their jobs and able to serve their customers in a legendary way:
- Identify the things that can potentially go wrong and have a recovery plan ready.
- Make sure all your team members know the plan and are empowered to deliver on it.
- Hire people like LeeAnn, who make it clear to customers that they are there to help when something goes wrong—because they care.
LeeAnn Norris from the Savannah airport security department proved to me that each of us can make the difference in a customer experience. I look forward to my next trip to Savannah so I can thank LeeAnn in person!
About the author:
Kathy Cuff is a senior consulting partner and one of the principal authors—together with Vicki Halsey—of The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Legendary Service training program.