Extraordinary Service in an Era of Low Expectations

My cell phone rang, displaying an unknown number while driving home from a Thanksgiving trip via the airport. Shannon from Milwaukee’s fine airline – Midwest – called to say that one of her coworkers found homework in the seatback of the plane we just vacated. She thought it important and wanted to know if we had a FedEx number so she could send us the missing homework via an overnight package.

Let’s just ponder this customer service outlier, or “black swan [more]” for a moment. We live in an era of low expectations:

  • Politics: Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss:
    But Ms. Pelosi’s damage to herself was already done. The well-known shortcomings of Mr. Murtha were broadcast for all to see — from his quid-pro-quo addiction to moneyed lobbyists to the grainy government tape of his involvement in the Abscam scandal a generation ago. The resurrected tape — feasted upon by Pelosi enemies — shows how Mr. Murtha narrowly survived as an unindicted co-conspirator, admittedly tempted but finally rebuffing a bribe offer: “I’m not interested — at this point.

  • Black Friday retail tactics:
    In Lewis Center, Ohio, near Columbus, Cindy Milsap, 43, and her daughter, Ashley, 20, woke up before dawn to drive to the nearby Wal-Mart Supercenter, which advertised a 52-inch high-definition television for $474. “We don’t really need a new TV, Ms. Milsap said. “But at that price? C’mon.”

    But the bargain eluded them. The “limited quantity” in the ad, she said, was three TVs — all sold by the time the pair arrived.

    Those customers left in peace.

  • The oxymoron that is “airline service“:
    With overcrowded airplanes, little civility in dress or demeanor of passengers, few meals, fewer amenities, industrywide salary cuts of epic proportions, and (the worst sin of all) airlines canceling pension plans because they’ve robbed the fund of hundreds of millions, far too many of America’s airline employees are shell shocked, depressed, disillusioned and resentful. In effect, we’re now an industry full of employees going through post-traumatic stress and wondering why we ever thought it was fun.

    And that, in a nutshell, equates to bad and inattentive service with a “who cares” attitude. Morale, in other words, is the key, and it’s in precious short supply today.

  • 2006 Airline Quality Rating website.

I remain astonished that a Midwest employee cleaning the plane found said homework, took the time to give it to someone who could find the owner, lookup their contact information, make a call, obtain the shipping information, place the papers in a FedEx package and send it our way. Everyone involved must actually care about the customer. What a concept. I hope that these words, in some small way encourage others to fly Midwest. There is indeed, no better care in the air.