thinking like a customer

thinking like a customer

Customer Camaraderie

By on October 9, 2008

 

When customers are suffering though really poor performance from an organization from whom they are buying a service, it unites them in a unique kind of camaraderie. Today is the six-month anniversary of the US Airways incident described in my October 8th post. This article is a tribute to Sonita, Marty, Evan, Samuel and Jamie, who, along with me, helped each other survive the two-day ordeal with many laughs and shared experiences which led to a great friendship among us.

Once US Airways had closed the door on the airplane to Dallas that we were supposed to be on, the airport staff began referring to us as their stranded passengers. Call us what you like-stranded, distressed, disgruntled-with as name like that, we could only associate with each other. In addition to the three hours on Wednesday evening before we received our "amenities kits" (toothpaste and toothbrush), we crowded into a cab (paid for by voucher) to the less-than-five-star hotel provided to us. The cab for the return to the airport the following morning refused to take the voucher and we paid cash.

We waited another four hours on Thursday morning because US Airways rebooked us on a flight that was also delayed. On Thursday's flight, Karl Rove traveled with us and it was refreshing that he had to wait in line for the re-issue of tickets-just like the rest of us. Marty, playing the role of hero, pushed through to the US Airways desk when it appeared that Sonita was not going to get her ticket and made sure that we all traveled together. One for all and all for one!

With lots of time together, we spent it creatively. Photos were taken and all of us now have copies. We created a fictional rock band, Stranded Passengers. Our first album could have these songs on it:

1. Ten Dollar Voucher
2. From DC to Dallas
3. Ricardo Cried (Ricardo was the Customer Service Supervisor from US Airways)
4. Cash for a Cab
5. Marty's Party
6. I Can't Get My Act Together
7. I Hope Nigeria Doesn't Get This Bad (Samuel was from Nigeria)
8. I Want to Hold Your Flight
9. I'm Stuck on the Runway (Again)
10. Headcount Boogie
11. Keep Standing By
12. Ten Minutes on the Tarmac
13. Cockpit Chaos

There comes a point in every situation-gone-wrong in which the anxiety of missed meetings, etc. becomes not important anymore. Meetings can be rescheduled and business associates understand. Conferences still go on without you and ceremonies for friends are still held, but you know that you can get the details of these events later. Friends and family members will wait until you arrive safely.

There is an extraordinary camaraderie that develops when you share hardships with other customers that you did not previously know. In fact, it is a nice twist of destiny that the six of us were able to meet. In a strange way, I suppose I should thank US Airways for creating the comedy of errors that brought us all together. I email the others in the group periodically and, although we are in completely different cities, we can share the memorably bad performance that US Airways put us through. The truth is that the customers always prevail in the long view-especially when they band together with the talent and toughness we showed as Stranded Passengers.

 

 

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