Traveling guy. Agreed 100%. Here is the kicker though. Attitude is contagious my friend. No matter how bad your morning was on the way to the airport, Missy’s may have been bad too.
Approaching her and asking for “seats that suck a bit less than the ones in the back” (therefore implying all their seats ‘suck’), most likely didn’t help your cause at all. You started the interaction on a note that puts most people on the defensive, making them push back instead of meet you on a common ground.
Imagine if you had started with, “Missy, I need your help. I’ve had an awful morning, and I just can’t see myself stuck in the back of the plane the next 2 hours. I’m hoping you can extend this “Gold Star” member a free upgrade to a slightly better seat today, as it would make a ton of difference. What can you do for me?”
I see that converastion and your experience potentially going 180 degrees differently. Now that doesn’t excuse Missy from being pulled in, she should have rose above, it is her job after all to be of service.
However if we approach those in service roles as equals, and not unleash our frustrations on them with an entitled “Gold Star” member attitude, we may just find we get a lot more of what we ask for, and it costs us nothing but a smile.
Just a thought.
OK. So… Here’s the thing..
1) He didn’t ask that – He asked if he could move up without paying a fee. My bd for blogging it the way I did, I was making the point about the bad seats vs. the slightly bad seats, but the ask to Missy was perfectly harmless.
2) Here’s the big thing: It doesn’t MATTER what kind of day Missy was having. I encourage you to read this: https://www.shankman.com/how-to-stop-being-angry/ – See, If i run a business, my customers are a privilege – NOT A RIGHT. I could have the crappiest day in the world – But if I’m in customer service, that doesn’t give me the right to take it out on a random customer. Quite the opposite – That customer service person doesn’t know what kind of day traveling guy was having. I’m not saying customer service people aren’t allowed to have bad days. But you know what? They should have gone on break, gone into the back, screamed, cried, or smoked it out, and then come back. Traveling guy’s contract of carriage didn’t include having to deal with attitude from a customer service rep. Agreed?
1) Yes, I agree that the ask makes a huge difference. I obviously mistook your quotes for what he actually said, as opposed to your infusion of humor.
2) I agree that Missy should’nt escape liability, EVEN IF he had used those words, as I said, she should have rose above, as her job IS service, and she provided it poorly. Even a “no” framed with the right attitude is easier to swallow for sure!
My main point wasn’t whether she was right in reacting, but more in that it seemed the approach could have made a difference in Travel Guy getting the RESULT he wanted.
I worked at Wyndham in college, and they stressed daily that everyone who leaves with a bad experience tells 10 people, and those that leave with a good one, tell 1 person. We needed a 10-1 ration of good to bad just to BREAK EVEN. It is all of our jobs to meet each customer with a fresh attitude, and service employees should have a Memento-like short term memory so they can treat every guest the same, with a clean slate.
Thanks for clarifying!
I completely agree with you, Peter. It IS the front-line person who IS the company. That person has one chance to WIN the customer, and it’s that initial contact.
What makes you think the customer service agent has the ability go on break and cry when necessary? Or that the she has the ability to do anything about waiving seat fees?
So much of this exchange seems like its coming from the point of view of someone whose daily experience is one of an empowered worker, but the sad truth is that someone in this rep’s position spends their days getting squeezed from both sides by both customers and management.
That doesn’t excuse the crap attitude, but it seems worth pointing out that these “front line” people are often the least empowered in the company.
I agree with your point that the “front line” people are often the least empowered. And I think that’s the point – that it’s the COMPANY’s problem that she has a bad attitude, because they’ve now lost a potentially good customer. I don’t see this post as being about Missy’s attitude, so much as it is about the company that creates an environment in which that attitude is tolerated. And part of that is the possibility that she doesn’t have the opportunity to be an empowered worker.
I never asked her to waive any fees. I simply asked if USAirways, as a member of the Star Alliance, allowed for the reserving of seats the way my regular airline does. Her reaction had nothing to do with me asking for any sort of “waived fees.” Secondly, are you assuming that people work 8 hours a day, no break, whatsoever? I don’t think that’s legal.
Peter, your post literally says that you asked if you could have the seat fee waived, so I’m really not sure why you want to take me and others to task for that phrasing.
As for the question of breaks: No, it is not legal. But that doesn’t mean it’s happening, or that it’s happening in the kind of at-your-convenience timetable implied by the post you wrote for an audience of mostly white-collar professionals.
Not sure how much more clear I could be here – The fee is free for Star Alliance. So I simply asked if that applied to US Air as well. Not sure how you read “Make it free.” from that.
Wait, is Peter “traveling guy?” I didn’t pick up on that before…. 😉
It doesn’t matter what kind of day you’ve had, or whether or not you’re facing a serious situation in your life… as a Customer Service Representative in ANY position, you should be prepared to partition your thought process and emotions to be willing to express empathy to all customers and to de-escalate any situation as well as predict and resolve any potential problems all customers may face. This does reflect poorly on US Airways as they clearly didn’t train each of their employees to be perfect CSR’s.
It certainly helps if a customer approaches you without being disrespectful or upset, but as part of customer service, you should be prepared for this. I’ve had people apologize to me for being so upset countless times because of the awesome return service I provide to them. Unless they come at me in a violent manner which threatens my life or limb, then there’s no reason for me to not provide them class-A customer service and treat them as if they are king and do everything in my power to provide them excellent customer service.
I recently quit working for a major company because of the limitations they pose to Customer satisfaction, and because they did not provide me the tools to serve my customers, even though the tools were readily available. You cannot expect to be taken seriously as a professional if you do not do everything in your power to uphold the standards of excellence in your field. Any time you engage in customer facing, you better be ready to not only represent the company, but be prepared to BE THE COMPANY. You ARE your company, pretend you are the owner and go above and beyond for every customer interaction, and get over the fact that you spilled coffee on your tie. Your day may suck, but you’re here to build relationships with your clients and to advance your business to a new level.
Teach your employees these values, and you’ll never have an issue like this.
Well said. Good two-way conversation is the key.
And I’m willing to bet, this “guy” might just have given this airline another shot as a “back up” airline to the one he normally flies… IF this “Missy M” would have just taken a little bit of effort and helped to make this “guy’s” day a little bit better… his trip, a little easier.
This “guy” just helped me decide which airline I’m NOT flying for my next trip.
It began when U.S. air elected to lay off full-time agents and hire part-timers with minimum training, absymally low pay and no benefits. You gets what you pays for.
Hahaha, please tell me you said “gets” on purpose. If not, [insert awkward silence here].
Sounds like there should be a job opening at USAirways reallllllly soon! Maybe two openings – one at the counter and the other in employee development to teach the message “one bad apple…”
Well said. While I know that your example could be applied to any number of other companies, I’ve found that it only takes one experience with aforementioned airline to make the choice never to fly them again. Last year, I flew four legs with said airline to four different airports (cheapest option, and it was a last-minute trip). At three of the airports (and onboard three of the flights), the service was dismal. Never again.
usairways stole my ff miles of over 16,000 years ago when they changed the rules to having to update your account within 18 months – never had that rule before – I missed the fine print in an email or missed the email – I tried to talk with them on numerous occasions about stealing my hard earned miles – they did not care – I never flew them again
At least, they’re consistent. Useless Air has been doling out shitty customer service experiences for longer than I care to think. One plus, seems the shitty service is limited to those on land, whereas in the past, it was from beginning to end.
Never have liked them. Even back when they were America Worst. I always avoid US Airways whenever possible.
That is very true! Also true that we always have a choice – not only of responding kindly, which you did, but choosing not to dwell on the frustrations (and believe me, I travel often and know of what ye speak!!). I have to remind myself regularly to return evil with good, even in my own mind!
Mr Keynote sounds like Mr Entitled. One person ruined the whole experience? takes it out on the rest of people along the way too? Crying about sitting on the tarmac? Sheesh. Sounds like he needed a baby bottle not jack daniels. You just cant please certain people! I dont like US Airways but i rather fly than drive.
Thanks for the comment, Robert. Not sure what story you were reading – Here’s some basics for you: (Quote from above: The worst part? Only ONE OF THESE THINGS WERE THE FAULT OF USAIRWAYS, BUT IT NO LONGER MATTERS.)
I simply asked if USAirways, as a member of the Star Alliance, allowed for the reserving of seats the way my regular airline does. Her reaction had nothing to do with my asking for anything else. I wasn’t pissed about the ground hold or the bad weather, In fact, I told mentioned that in the article.
Let’s say that I’m one of 500 customers that Missy deals with per day. Let’s say that out of those 500, she talks to 400 of them the same way she talks to me. Let’s assume that out of those 400, 100 of them expect at the very least, basic civility in their interactions with USAirways.
So 100 people x 5 days a week x 4 times a month – 2000 people a month – x 11 months a year – 22,000 people who she could potentially cause to choose another airline. Let’s assume $350 per passenger? I’ll even drop that to $250. Let’s assume $250 per passenger who chooses to take their business elsewhere… Hmm… $5.5 MILLION dollars of lost revenue PER YEAR.
And you naively believe that this is about one customer being entitled? Sorry, Robert, but you couldn’t be more off-base here. This isn’t an issue of one person being offended. This is a much, much bigger picture. It’s a shame you’re not seeing that.
Great and all too common story. Everyone has a crappy day at one point or another but the urge to be less than helpful and dismissive is usually a result of having that attitude flowing top down…maybe not from the CEO of the airline but from front-line supervisors that are charged with the care and feeding of Missy M. It takes less energy to be pleasant than to be a bitch; less cheek muscles to smile than frown so Missy worked harder than she needed to and let me just believe that working hard for the airline isn’t on her must-do list. Working for the airlines is one of the most difficult jobs but listen up all you folks that have paying jobs with benefits and so forth…be friggin grateful and if you don’t like it then quit and make your friends and famnly miserable,m not paying customers.
Out of everyone’s comments, I think I agree with yours the most. No one knows what kind of day Missy M was actually having, but starting with that kind of attitude is never good for anyone. If her higher ups condone that behavior it’s even worse. Customer service for an airline is one of the harder front end jobs to have and it seems like she didn’t try to make the best of it.
I’ve read that North Carolina residents are more courteous than anyone else in the USA. Unfortunately, the few (or the only one) who are not, work for US Airways.
I think this should be required reading for all airlines. A customer facing position position should be filled with those that value their job and are dedicated to pleasing their customers. Anything less is shameful. The traveling public pays a hefty price to fly and they don’t deserve a lot of lip when they ask a question. There are a lot of unemployed people who would be happy to take this job.
It’s called U.S. Scareways for a reason. Definitely one of the worst!
Grow a backbone. If this is the most you need concern yourself with then you are doing just fine. Why does every act so entitled? Missy M is probably doing it a lot tougher than you, you just don’t know. You don’t know what conditions have been placed on her from management or the company, if she is valued enough there to give her ‘A’ or even ‘B’ or ‘C’ customer service.
Your attitude is the only thing that gave you a bad experience. How you respond to any given situation is the only possible thing that will impact your life. You could have merely brushed off her response, admitted to yourself it wasn’t personal, moved on, instead of dwelling on it and deciding your mood should be set by it.
Really, Jo? Exactly what did I do? I simply asked if USAirways, as a member of the Star Alliance, allowed for the reserving of seats the way my regular airline does. Her reaction had nothing to do with my asking for anything else. And here’s why your “backbone” comment doesn’t hold any water at all: Ready?
And you naively believe that this is about one customer growing a backbone? Sorry, Jo, but you couldn’t be more off-base here. This isn’t an issue of one person being offended. This is a much, much bigger picture. Sorry you’re not seeing that.
On the one hand, I feel bad for the customer service agent. She had no clue she was dealing with a social media heavyweight, and she probably will be fired, now that the story is out.
On the other hand, US Airways definitely has a problem with their hiring and management and in their customer insight programming. Maybe the attention this garners will inspire change?
Anyway, it’s a good lesson for the rest of us in business: All it takes is one weak link to cause all kinds of negative momentum.
It’s not about a social media heavyweight or my blogging, or anything like that. She shouldn’t reserve being nice for anyone specific. She’s the front lines. She should be nice, PERIOD. That’s the problem. True?
Absolutely. She is leaving an ongoing trail of wreckage. She doesn’t belong on the front lines anywhere. Whoever hired her and whoever directly manages her are probably going to get heat too. The wound she inflicted on her company requires treatment. She’s toxic and has to go. Cutting out the cancer won’t be enough to heal the patient though. A lot more work will be involved, and for some – it could be a traumatic thing.
Clearly that customer service rep was asking the universe to somehow take her job away. Why? Who knows… maybe she is simply an idiot? She’ll be at home watching TV as her savings disappears and might suddenly come to the realization that she asked for it, and she got it. Then she’ll see her unemployment compensation claim was denied. There will be a rapid downward spiral into financial distress. It’s not your fault though, Shankman. It’s 100% all on her.
If the airline does not stop her, then this parasitic employee will continue to inject large doses of negative momentum into their business. The damage is going to get worse. An amputation might one day be required… by a new management team.
The lesson in this story is useful for a lot of other businesses.
Cancer… parasite… toxic… amputation…These are interesting choices of words to describe a human being.
Yes, a human being who in-tactfully (rudely!) delivered the bad news to Peter that the management had already made a decision about what his status entitles him to, and that she was in no position to do anything about it.
Peter says he’s acting in good faith, and that it isn’t about him trying to take advantage of his position to bully anyone or get anything more than what every customer should be entitled to. And I believe him. In fact, he’s written some very good material before on “the entitled jerk,” the value of humility and the dignity of others.
But you’re certainly taking it to a whole other level, aren’t you?
Uh huh… Kendra is that a poke in the eye from across the internet? Don’t like my writing? Okay, whatever.
Cancer starts small, grows larger and wreaks havoc. You cut it out, burn it out, or do something to neutralize its destructive nature.
Yah, she’s a parasite feeding off the host, which is US Airways. It seems to me she is taking a paycheck while providing no value in return, based upon the account presented. She is not helping her employer. She is damaging them.
I don’t think this is an employee that can be or should be salvaged. She is toxic and has to go. A prudent employer could see it no other way. And the incident should become a platform for learning within the company. It should spark a change. Because that kind of outrageous treatment of any customer should not be tolerated.
If nobody cares, if nobody pays attention, and this condition of apathy for the customer persists and spreads, it grows into a business killing thing.
Who likes dealing with assholes? I don’t. This story alone is enough to make me want to avoid US Airways for years and years. And I’m just one person. This one individual has done enormous damage to her employer. They just don’t know it yet.
I was getting angry just reading the post. What is so frickin’ hard about setting an expectation of great customer service in an organization, empowering front line employees to deliver this service and holding them accountable? I take it back; it is hard, but it’s also a choice. It’s a choice made by Zappos, Nordstrom et al and their success is due to this choice they’ve made. Based on their customer service ranking, it’s a choice USAirways hasn’t made and when they go the way of Continental, TWA, PanAm we’ll all know why.
Yes, the employee Missy must go! This was an awful customer experience and exchange. And, having said that, “the guy” should have/could have used this as an opportunity to improve, both Missy and himself. There’s the possibility Missy will never “get it”, but you never know….giving her feedback might have worked. Clearly she needs feedback and training. Not trying to dismiss the point of the story, but, I feel compelled to mention that “the guy” had some choices as a customer; he had an opportunity to be a contribution, and chose not to; he had an opportunity to pay the $39 and chose not to; and so on. When I finished reading the story, I thought of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and thought how differently this story might have ended had some of those concepts been acted upon by the “bigger” person. I immediately agreed with Mark’s comments and suggestions. And, for the take-away, I love the response (and will use it as a reminder) “customers are a privilege, not a right”!!!
I blame deregulation and the airline lobby. The first because when airline ticket prices were set by the government all the airlines could do to compete was provide service. And it was good service – attractive flight attendants, plenty of free booze, and even free toys and games for the kids (who mercifully were priced out of flying in most cases). And when people flew they dressed up for it and actually exhibited manners. The second, the airline lobby, is the problem now that the after effects of allowing cut throat competition and the corresponding reductions in service levels have run their course in the aftermath of deregulation. Because they have stopped dead and/or wattered down every effort by Congress to enact a passenger bill of rights. The end result is a flying experience with all the charm of riding the Chinatown bus. And to all you out there to say that airline deregulation spurred competition and lowered prices take a look out there today. After the American/USAir merger completes there will only be four major airlines left in the United States many of whom will have monopolies on routes. And of those only three – United, American, and Delta will fly internationally. The fourth, Southwest, flies domestic only. Compare that to how many airlines existed in America in 1978 when deregulation passed – anyone remember Pan Am, Braniff, Eastern, Continental, Northwest, and TWA? All of whom either went bankrupt or merged out of existence or some combination thereof. And how much do you want to bet the price for an air ticket will only go up? The only thing that is certain is that the service will remain lousy or get worse – oh and they’ll figure out more ways to nickel and dime passengers like charging to use the toilet like Ryan Air does in Europe.
For all of the commenters who are basically saying “suck it up”: respectfully, you’re missing the point.This isn’t really about one person’s reaction; it’s about the long-term consequences of an employee’s poor attitude. Even if Mr. Social Media Heavyweight is a perfect saint, forgives her rudeness and smiles happily through the whole flight, a lot of other customers won’t. Whether their attitude is right or wrong might be relevant to the level of happiness in the world, but it’s totally irrelevant to the company’s bottom line. Unhappy customers tell their friends and go to the competition. Period. So it’s in the company’s best interests to create an environment where their employees make customers happy.
THANK YOU. 🙂
It’s a company-wide problem at US Airways. They failed to record activity on my wife’s and my frequent flyer accounts, and retired them with free trips already accrued. Months of calls and letters up the chain of command go no resolution. We complained to the DoT and US Air then restored our accounts with a disingenuous “We appreciate your business” reply.
“One” bad employee at USAir? Hardly. I used to have to fly them all the time when I lived in western PA (before they reneged on their agreements with Pittsburgh and left giant wings of the new airport vacant and boarded up). This is exactly what I encountered with them 10 and 15 years ago.
Yikes, I’ve never flown USAir because I’ve never heard a single good word about them. So apparently this guy is not alone…
I only read the first few comments and Shankman’s response to Mark Coxon. Service is something an employee should want to provide based on a few key elements. If the hiring process were to start with an introduction to the values of your business, then an interview could be arranged. Screening interested folks arriving to apply for a job is critical. When things go wrong, as with Missy’s attitude, we can then review the process that led to her attaining that position in the first place. Sure she now made it difficult to sell this guy on future travel with USAir but she’s not solely responsible. AND, realize, not just anyone is good at screening possible applicants. I don’t care how many years experience or degrees your HR folks have because some of them absolutely suck at screening, interviewing and hiring. Remember, your HR pro or lead may have been “advised” in school to study for this degree, but they were never really taught to understand values that are tied to a business model and thus hire people who also appreciate values are the foundation of your business. The result? You get mediocre or lazy folks working for a check instead of an experience.
Customer Service = Interest, care, love, warmth and being KIND – NOT NICE. When we are NICE we miss great opportunities to direct our employees and thus become ambiguous in these most important relationships. Missy does not belong in her job. She needs to move out of it but who’s going to tell her? Everyone is being nice. Nice because they don’t want to upset her, agitate her or because she has 20 years on the job, finally tell her the truth – she sucks at what she does!
Build your business to be seen on VALUES. Instill them in the everyday plans of what you so, sell or service. FInd others who want more than “a job” and understand you demand a values driven workplace. Let that become what people speak about when your business or name comes up and then you’ll attract the best people for you.
Brand pain is an opportunity to explain to the world why you do things the way you do. Rule 1: No one is perfect except God. Rule 2: We try really hard to serve our clients in a reasonable and fair way. Rule 3: Some fokes just cannot be pleased. Everyone is familiar or going through the training course of life to learn these rules. So getting brand pain is a door opening to explain and educate. If a brand can’t do that, then maybe that brand needs to leave the kitchen.
Not only did the agent eliminate the opportunity for “positive mentions”, she created a fertile ground for negative comments and a subsequent blog post about her poor handling of this situation.
It’s a company-wide problem at US Airways. They failed to record activity on my wife’s and my frequent flyer accounts, and retired them with free trips already accrued. Months of calls and letters up the chain of command go no resolution. We complained to the DoT and US Air then restored our accounts with a disingenuous “We appreciate your business” There needs to be more ethical companies like http://www.athleticworx.com
Exactly. As I always tell employees…”the customer doesn’t care what kind of day you’re having. You have to check your issues at the door because YOU may be the only representative of the company the customer ever sees”.
Only one chance to make a good first impression.
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