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From Mundane to Magical: A Look at Customer Service

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If you have flown lately, you have probably lost faith in the airline industry. I know I have. Late flights, lost or damaged luggage, and the attitudes of the staff, though much improved over years past, is still suffering. When will the airline industry realize that what they offer is a service, and thus service minded people are needed to appease people when things go wrong? The "not my job" or "too busy to make an extra effort" attitudes have got to go. If you are like me, you have some choice words for some of those types of folks.

I am limited to the airlines I get to fly due to the small size of Mobile, AL, so my frame of reference is skewed. I heard that JetBlue passengers enjoy their experience, but I have not had the privilege. However, I am delighted to say that on a recent Northwest Airlink flight traveling to Colorado, I experienced the best airline customer service EVER. It was on the leg from Mobile to Memphis. An older flight attendant named Mike Barajas was enthusiastic from the moment I stepped on the plane. He smiled and welcomed me aboard, offered to help me find my seat and was a pleasant person for a 6 AM flight. During the taxi down the runway, he recited a poem that made us all laugh. After take-off, Mike made the most of his time with each passenger. Instead of wheeling the beverage cart down the aisle, he chose to "take orders" from us, bringing us the drink of choice on his tray, setting our table down and telling us to "enjoy our beverage." He then proceeded to refill them with courtesy. Towards the end of the one hour journey, Mike explained in detail the gate numbers of connecting flights. He went so far as to comment on the places and shared neat facts about some cities. Mike Barajas worked hard to make his time with us an event to remember. I wasn't the only one telling him "good job" as we left the plane. He gave freely of his positive attitude, demonstrated effective customer service training, and it transformed the entire experience.

I am sure that if you exude a positive attitude with your clients and prospects, you too can receive praise for your performance. In the book Inside the Magic Kingdom by Tom Consellman, he describes one of the secrets to Disney's success is "Everyone Walks the Talk." That means projecting a positive image, and making a visit to the Magic Kingdom, well, magical! Although the financial service meetings can be wrought with numbers and sometimes morbid (if you sell life insurance), it does not mean the client experience has to follow suit. Next time you have the opportunity to meet with a client or prospect, make a positive event out of it. Offer them refreshments, play some upbeat music when they come in, bring them a thoughtful gift or share with them a unique story. Use a Signature Selling technique that will help them remember the meeting. Do SOMETHING besides meet to discuss their financial situation.

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