If There’s Anything Else

Sep 23, 2019

BY SUMNER MUSOLF – ENGAGEMENT MANAGER

You know that look—from your favorite TV show or a memorable film—where the character realizes in a moment that they forgot something? That look of dread, quickly followed by the subsequent obstacles that now lie in their path towards retrieval or resolution? You ever had one of those moments that comes rushing to your memory?

Me, too.

It was a couple of weeks ago, in the airport. I had gotten off the plane and made my way out to meet the Uber I had called. The driver was three minutes away and I was explaining where I was standi… and there I had it. That quick-shooting look of dread.

I left my thermos on the plane! The Yeti that was a Father’s Day present from my children three years ago is my constant companion for hydration. It is adorned with stickers from special events, from close friends, and from said offspring. Its sentimental value made me quickly realize how critically important it was. I cancelled the Uber and scurried back into the terminal.

It was at the arrival information screen where I realized the layers to resolving my issue. I couldn’t get past security without a ticket, the screen listed arrivals by carrier and not by airline, and I never looked to see what gate I landed at. My eyes wandered as to what to do next.

As I did so, I met eyes with an airport security officer for a moment just a few yards away. He clearly understood my contemplative state as he approached and asked how my day was. I laid out the scenario leading up to my conundrum. Without hesitating, he gazed up at the arrival information with new information that linked carrier with airline. With some more pointed questions, we narrowed our options to two different potential gates. He gave me a 10- to 15-minute timeline in which he expected to be back, with or without my thermos, and validated that I had that much budgeted time. And then he was off. Despite his vigorous optimism, I never expected to see him—or my treasured thermos—again.

Eight minutes later—yes, I tracked it simply out of curiosity—he came back into view with my stickered Yeti in hand. He told me that they had cleaned the plane and were already boarding the last of its next passengers. I thanked him profusely for his dedication to something so mundane and expressed my wish to provide him some sort of reward. A coffee, a trinket from the airport—anything. He handed me his card and simply said, “If there’s anything else I can do for you, please let me know.” We exchanged respectful goodbyes and I was back to coordinating the next Uber. This time, with a great customer experience and my sentimental value in tow.

While this is definitely a unique experience, what happened to me is something any business has within their control. Here’s three straight-forward things you can do within and throughout your everyday.

1. RECOGNIZE A NEED WITHOUT BEING ASKED

This airport security officer picked up right away that I was distressed. Rather than ignore my clear signs of needing assistance or placate me with a quick exchange, he proactively initiated a conversation towards the resolution I was specifically seeking.

What are your customers forgetting? What may cause them distress in how they shop for your products or interact with your services? Don’t wait to have a customer bring this up to you—by then, it may already be too late. Chances are you probably already know of one example. What can you do to start resolving it today?

2. GO ABOVE AND BEYOND

Retrieving lost objects can’t be high on the list for airport security. I’m sure it’s not even on the list. Despite its sentimental value, I wouldn’t have proactively obligated airport security with my lost thermos, but this gentleman took an opportunity to selflessly go above and beyond.

What subtle yet powerful opportunities exist for you to show your customers that you are willing to go the extra mile simply to satisfy them? What lengths will you go to ensure that they will remember what’s precious or essential for them? Consider what’s not on your list but should be.

3. EMPOWER YOUR EMPLOYEES

The simple act of the airport security officer approaching me and asking if there was anything he could help with already exceeded my expectations. If he wasn’t given the capability to help me, this story most likely doesn’t have a happy ending. Him being empowered to help was what made it all possible.

It doesn’t take rocket science to see #2 and #3 are connected here. (It should include data science, but that’s a different blog post.) In order for your customers to recognize and share that you go above and beyond, start by giving your employees that capability. If you do that, they will end up enjoying their job more and the happy ending is a win-win-win.

That feeling when you realize you forgot something? The worst. Having someone willingly partner with you towards a positive resolution, though? The best-case scenario. When it happens for you, I hope you take notice of all the facets in play that allowed a simple and exceptional experience. Now, where are my keys?