American Airlines – mixed service creates mixed reviews

Inconsistent behavior creates disappointed passengers.

Real-world story: It all started on March 8th. I was flying out of San Diego to Philadelphia on American Airlines. My original flight was delayed so I was transferred to another flight at another gate. The flight attendant at this new gate looked less than interested in helping me. All he said was “This flight is full. I don’t have a seat for you. Go stand over there.” Not exactly a friendly welcome. About 15 minutes later, he called my name. As I approached the counter he said “Here you go princess.” As I looked at my ticket I noticed it was in First Class. I was totally shocked. I looked up at the flight attendant and he had a smile on his face. I guess he wasn’t as mean as I thought. After getting situated in my seat, the first class flight attendant asked if I wanted a drink. She didn’t smile and looked angry. In fact, she maintained that demeanor throughout the flight. At one point, when it was time for lunch, she said quite abruptly “Take out your tray table so I can serve your food.” I felt like I was in grade school being scolded. What could have been a pleasant flight in first class turned into an unpleasant one.

However, on the next segment of my flight, I was seated in the second to last row of the plane. The two flight attendants taking care of us, Laurie and Bob, were over-the-top friendly. They smiled when speaking to customers and seemed to really care if we were comfortable or not. It was such a refreshing change from the treatment of my last flight.

On the return flight, I experienced the same inconsistent treatment. At the gate and on the first flight, the attendants were unfriendly and rude. But on the following segment, the flight attendants, Keri and Diane, were extremely friendly and accommodating. They chatted easily with the passengers, joked with many, and maintained an overall positive and friendly disposition. It was interesting to see and experience the drastic difference of these employees. This inconsistency was confusing and disappointing and created mixed reviews.

Strategy to turn it around: Most people know that negative behavior is more contagious (and memorable) than good behavior. So, when employees display inconsistent behavior, it’s the bad behavior that stands out and is remembered. Companies that consistently invest in their customer service representatives and train them on the importance of presenting a positive image  and treating each customer with respect and kindness are the ones seeing the greatest rewards and creating great memories.

The solution is simple: Be NICE – to everyone. Period.

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