Recently, I traveled to Chicago for a family event—fun, reunion, and sharing galore! I took my first Uber rides and am enamored of the system Uber has created.
The front end of the trip went smooth as silk. Then it was time for me to leave, and the stars were misaligned to test my mettle.
Besides the constant, pounding rain, my son and I got a lazy start to the airport more than an hour away. After walking his new puppy before we left, he realized he had locked his car and house keys inside. There went gasket one! He kindly called an Uber car and the adventure began.
Within minutes the car arrived, and we raced against the clock as the pounding rain pelted the vehicle like nails being dropped from six floors up. Wow—it was a Noah’s Ark moment. Combine that with the crippling traffic, and I was destined to miss my flight. Usually not a big deal, but I have a disabled husband awaiting my timely arrival at my destination.
After slugging through the squall, the driver dropped me at the curb. The two curbside people were like a comedy routine. I had 15 minutes to arrive at the gate before my seat was relinquished. “Naw, don’t even try to get there. You still have to go through security and you want a wheelchair?” “Ah, ah, lady. You’ll never make it.” So, now I was diverted to a different flight as a standby behind four others—not good odds, especially with the weather issues. I asked the agent to put my bags on my original flight so it would arrive before me on a later flight. “Sure, no problem.”
I creep into the terminal looking for the wheelchair section. Another 15 minutes click by. But, I got lucky. An attentive young women, Salma, was my engine. I told her my dilemma and she was an optimist. She had the gate of newly assigned flight and we clipped along as she asked if I needed the restroom or something to eat; she would stay with me and assist. What a delight juxtaposed to the two buffoons that took my bag, which, by the way, put my bag on the later flight! True, I should’ve checked the ticket at the counter, but I was frazzled and relied on them doing their jobs; big mistake.
Anyway, Salma was my good luck charm. As we whirled through security, she found the gate for me.
Next to it was the original flight I thought I had missed, but it was delayed due to the torrential rain! Now, I have to negotiate a line of people for the later flight and begged my way to the front of the line. The reservation agent said go to the boarding area (I had the boarding pass in my phone!) as the boarding was almost done. Got through that line and the agent there said I hadn’t checked in, even though I have the boarding pass on my phone! Back to original line with poor Salma not knowing how to help me. I gave her a tip and proceeded to interrupt again because I needed a printed boarding pass she previously did not give to me! Catching my breath, I trotted up to the line and presented my newly printed pass—I didn’t pass GO or collect $200!
Finally, I siddled down the jetway and toward the rear of the plane eyeing an aisle seat. Got it! Happy to land in the seat. I was going to make it after all the commotion. Consider the assigned shuttle at the destination end that would’ve been missed with service only to 10 p.m., no car, no one to pick me up. Engines roar and the captain apologetically said there is a short delay—an hour and a half latter, we were cleared for departure! Finally, I was going home.
The flight was pleasant and happily, we landed safely. Off to baggage claim . . . to find my bag didn’t make the flight! No where to be seen. I called my shuttle guy and he was waiting for me and off I went with only my purse and a gift bag in hand.
So what is the point of this fairy tale?
- The behavior of the players made a difference in my experience. Heckel and Jeckel at the curbside were defeatists and never offered to check conditions at security or if my original flight was delayed. They put my bag on the wrong plane and were very unfriendly.
- Salma made up for it. She was pleasant and optimistic that we needed to check out the first flight because flights were delayed.
- The gate agent was obnoxious and didn’t help anything because she didn’t ask the right questions (she wasn’t even curious or caring) to resolve the issue about my boarding pass—instead she pushed me away to wait in another line to ultimately be sent back to her!
- The shuttle driver went the extra mile and continuously checked the flight status and waited for me. We had a chatty, pleasant 40 minute ride to the lot to pick up my car.
So, what is your customer-centric strategy, to serve as your best self, and how have your prepped your team to do the same? Send in your ideas here, or leave a comment. With your permission, I can publish them here. -MC