4 Customer Service Tips for Airlines

4 Customer Service Tips for Airlines

People often remark that traveling must be fun for me because I travel close to 200 days a year.   There are some perks, but over all travel has become work.   Unless you have any kind of status with an airline, you can be expected to be treated close to or around average.  When I lived in Chicago, I flew American Airlines and achieved the status of Executive Platinum.  Now that I moved to Indianapolis, the airport is new and awesome, but I have to fly other airlines that I have no status with.  It is tough when you realize you have to work more or fly more in order to achieve a level where a company will treat you exceptional.   I am not alone in this view as many road warriors can attest to this fact.

Every little action is either making your company great or not.   That is why it is important to remember the fundamentals that make your company great.  And really, they are the little things that work best.

What prompted me to write this article with the constancy of being treated poorly by airlines that I don’t have status with the exception of Air Tran.  They actually impressed me.  I never really thought much of this airline before until I flew them to Orlando.  Air Tran was impressive by the quality of service from when you check in to boarding the airplane.  Even thought I didn’t have status, they treated me as if I did.  I like that!

Now most airlines from a public relations stand point would argue that customers can make their job tough.  I won’t argue that at all.  Some customers are just rude and have no clue what is going on.   They can test a person’s attitude on a dime.  However, there are simple acts of customer service that will create experiences that build on making your company firm and stable.

Here are my 4 Best Tips for Customer Service for Airlines, but any organization can apply these same principles and achieve success.

1.        Just Be Nice. 

When I check in, don’t act like I am a burden, but act like you are glad to see me.  Fake it if you have too, I don’t care.  Maybe offer up a little eye contact or a smile.  I would even settle for half a smile.  How hard is that?  Not hard at all.  Sure a lot of people are waiting to get checked in, but is it any really extra effort to be nice?  No.   Who should do this?  Anyone who interacts with customers.

2.        Communicate Better.

Since I don’t have status with many airlines, I normally am one of the last people to board the plane, which means overhead bins are most likely full.   Before people board, be sure to offer the option to check carry on pieces to the destination.   It is embarrassing when you carry your bag on all the way to row 99 and all the bins are full and people are waiting to get by you and you have nowhere to go. So you have to fuddle around until you can carry your bag all the way back to the front to check it.   If people are walking on the plane and you notice they have a luggage that is going to be tight and not fit well, then tell them and give them the quick option to check it right there.  Speed is the key when you have a schedule to keep, so keeping open and consistent communication is vital.

3.       Don’t let your Individual attitude get in the way.

If you are having a bad day, don’t let the chip on your shoulder turn into an experience that makes customers feel uncomfortable and makes you look unprofessional.   You are there to do a job and to do it with the right attitude.  Leave your emotional junk at the door.  I didn’t buy a ticket to deal your junk, so don’t try to dump it on me.   If you feel like you might lose your cool, take a few minutes to drink some water, breathe and release negative tension.  Splash some water on your face.   But don’t’ scream at customers or chug a beer and pull the emergency slide.   If you need to, seek professional help to learn how to manage your emotions so you are not reactive and unpleasant.    Remember, a positive attitude gets better results than a negative one.  So do what it takes to get a positive attitude.

4.        Be Aware and Be Willing to Jump In.

I was at the Las Vegas airport and the lines were long. They normally are there.  I got into the First Class Line to check in and even though I didn’t have a first class ticket, I was going to inquire about an upgrade to get one.  When I stepped up, the customer service agent checked and informed that there were no first class upgrades.   Now here is where it gets interesting.  There was nobody behind me in line.  The customer service agent could have printed my boarding pass in less than 60 seconds.  However, she was not willing to jump in and help out.  She actually created more work for her co-workers, made the airline look bad and created an experience that was unpleasant.   She said if I wanted to check in, that I had to go stand in line with general boarding.  And I fully understand that is the process normally, however, if she had awareness she would have observed the general boarding lines where very long and there was nobody standing in the first class line to check in.   She could have helped out, but she complicated things and was very rude to me when I tried to figure out her lack of common sense to the situation.   I went to general boarding and waited.  Finally when it was my turn to check in, I asked the customer service agent if she could fix my ticket to get me on a different flight to get home earlier.  She was willing to help. She had to go into the back to fix a glitch in the system and as I waited, there was the customer service agent just sitting there doing nothing as her co-workers were working.  Observing this behavior made me realize it’s not always the airline as a whole that is the negative, but rather individuals who choose to be and act negative.   Would I hire a person like that?  Not in a million years.  Would I fire a person like that?  In a minute.

Having awareness is being keen on your environment and being willing is to jump in where you can help your co-workers and create a positive experience for the customer.

Are these customer service tips hard to do?  Not at all.  Do they contribute to achieving success? You bet.

This information is compiled, researched and written by Sam Glenn, The Attitude Guy.   Sam is a sought after motivational speaker by companies and organizations that want to re-charge attitude’s for positive action.  Sam Glenn offers strategies that combat stress and negativity in the workplace and ideas that ramp up teamwork, communication and the right culture where people can thrive. 

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