Customer service doesn’t just happen when someone is at your place of business or purchasing your product. Customer service can (and should) happen after the sale too, and can make an even bigger impact than you’d expect.
My husband and I traveled internationally last week and flew United Airlines. I knew tickets would be expensive, and it wasn’t going to be an enjoyable experience (8 hours in coach), but you gotta do what you gotta do if you want to go to Europe from the U.S. The most you can hope for is that you make it there safe, your flight is on time and there aren’t any unpleasant passengers.
However, great customer service can make what you expect to be a mediocre experience a pleasant one. Here are four examples in one trip of how United Airlines did just that.
After a week vacation, it was time to head home (boo!). We had an 8 hour flight ahead of us followed by a 2 hour layover and another 2.5 hour flight. The morning of our departure, we checked the flight (or maybe my husband got a notification via the App, not 100% sure) and realized it was running an hour late. This was going to be a MAJOR problem, as we only had a 2-hour layover in D.C. which included going through customs. When we checked in, the person working the desk noticed the delay and our short turnover. Without request, he checked later flights to see if he could go ahead and put us on a list for one of those in case we didn’t make it. (#1) Unfortunately they were full, but at least he tried – and without request. He wished us the best and sent us on our way.
Once we were in the air and they came around for beverages, I ordered a glass of wine. The attendant notified me that the first round complimentary because of the delay. (#2)
As a flight attendant came around towards the end of the flight, we mentioned we already had a short layover in D.C., and with the delay we were concerned about making our connection in time. We had a few discussions about what we and she could and couldn’t do to help, but no luck. However, she did offer to make an announcement after the plane landed asking customers whose final destination was D.C. or who had a longer layover if they could stay seated, so those of us with short layovers could get off the plane first. (#3)
We made it off the plane with a whopping 45 minutes until our next flight was wheels up. Unfortunately customs was no help (heads up, there’s no line skipping there). But while in line and killing time, I checked my email and saw there was a note from United Airlines. After seeing that our flight was delayed and the next flight would be cutting it close, United went ahead and booked us on a later flight rerouted through a different city (because remember, the other flights were full) just in case we didn’t make our flight. (#4) They didn’t cancel our original flight, just got us on the next one as a back-up.
What did this cost United Airlines? Maybe $100 in booze to the drinkers on the plane. A little bit of extra effort from their staff. But that’s about it.
What did they get out of it? A very satisfied customer who will be flying United again, and recommending others do the same.
The takeaway for today: There’s nothing more valuable than excellent customer service. Especially after the sale. And employees can be your most valuable PR.
What can you do to serve your customers after the sale?