Maybe it’s just the airlines I fly, but lately I’ve been really unimpressed with the level and quality of service from them. Just this past Friday I was scheduled to do a shoot in Canada. I arrive a little over an hour before my flight, I’m getting checked in, and the ticket agent asks me for my passport.
“I don’t have one,” I say. “But we checked with the Canadian-US Consulate website and it specifically states that US Citizens entering Canada do not need a passport. A valid citizenship ID and birth certificate will suffice.”
“Sorry sir. But that law changed nine months ago.” Says the agent.
“I know about the law, but there are exceptions. And this is one of them.”
We went back and forth like this for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, my deadline to check in is ticking away. I tell her I have the website up on my iPhone right now and I read her the rule. She recites the law. I ask to see a supervisor.
“She’ll tell you the same thing.”
“May I please speak with her anyway.”
“I’ll see if I can get her.”
Huh? You’ll see if you can get her? WTF! Arghhh! Another 5 minutes pass before she actually picks up the phone to call the supervisor.
Meanwhile, she and the other agent banter back and forth, periodically telling themselves, “Didn’t that law change 9 months ago?” “Yep, uh, huh. Sure did. That law changed like 9-10 months ago. Gotta have passport.” Okay. I get the idea. I need a passport. You don’t have to keep repeating it to yourself to prove you’re right.
They then got a brilliant idea. They decide to look it up in the computer to actually see if I may be right, that there may be an exception for US citizens entering Canada (friggin’ brilliant!). They find something that talks about an exception, but she tells me it’s related to the Department of Immigration, and only applies to employees of that department. I’m thinking, “What! Are you kidding me?”
About 20-30 minutes later, a supervisor finally comes out. We go through the whole rigmarole again, and she finds the same screen the first two agents find. I ask if I can look. She lets me. Right there in that ugly green and black monitor it clear reads:
Department of Immigration Services Exception to the Passport Rule: U.S. Citizens entering Canada may do so without a passport if they have any of the following: valid U.S. citizenship ID and original birth certificate.
By now, I’ve missed my flight. The supervisor (who admittedly is much more sensitive) agrees to let me on the next flight. She then attempts to check me in, but unfortunately, their system is hard-coded so that “birth certificate” is no longer a check-in option. Which means she can’t check me on ANY flight. No trip to Canada. My flight was at 11:42. By the time I finished with them and taking the shuttle back home, it was 4 pm.
IT’S THE SIMPLE THINGS THAT COUNT
This just happens to be one of those freaks of nature where there was no one really “at fault” per se. Both my client and I checked on the passport rule weeks ago when the ticket was purchased. (In retrospect I probably should have gotten one anyway.) And in the end, neither of those agents would have been able to get me on that flight. Regardless, what got me so upset was that these two agents could have cared less that I was starting to panic about missing my flight. They moved like molasses when it came to getting someone who could help me, and all they could do was remind me how much of an idiot I apparently was for not knowing the law.
Sometimes it’s just the little things that count in giving great customer service. Like smiling. Being friendly. Showing that you care. All of that would have gone a long way to assuage my feelings and help me in this situation. (Especially since in this case I was indeed correct.)
OH, AND ONE MORE THING…
Is it just me, or is anyone else whose flown recently been annoyed at all the extra costs associated with flying. Extra money to check in a bag. You now have to pay for the peanuts. And a couple of weeks ago, I was on a flight where you had to pay $7 for a blanket and pillow. Goodness gracious, what has this world come to?
I get that fuel prices and the plight of the economy have required extra costs. But you know what, just build them into the price of the ticket for crying out loud. I know it may be psychological, but I’d MUCH prefer that than having to whip out my credit card again to pay for a bag. Doesn’t just about everybody check in at least one bag? And come on, $7 to rent a pillow!
Now, after bashing the airline, I must confess that my customer service sucks too. That’s right. We have not offered the level of service to our clients that I WANT my company to be known for. This experience has opened up my eyes to how vital it is to have not just good or okay service, but AMAZING service. It’s time for some house cleaning. I’m not afraid to point out and look for areas where someone may be saying on their blog, “that Ron Dawson sucks!”
Have you looked at the level of service to your clients lately? Perhaps it’s time.