Detroit Airport: Game. Set. Match

A recent client visit took my travels through the Detroit airport.  It was a week night and my connecting flight was departing from the last gate at a different terminal (Gate 77 to be exact).

Anyway, on the trek to my gate, I couldn’t help but notice how clean the airport was.  No trash, polished banisters and shiny floors.  In fact, I got an up close view of how those floors get so shiny.

As I walked by an airport worker, I noticed her unique “broom”.  It was a long pole with a tennis ball attached to the end.  With quick precision, she was buffing out any scuff marks created by passersby.  With a few strokes, the floor shined.

Wow.  What attention to detail. And the results were remarkable.

This demonstration of focus provides some lessons for anyone who serves others – through a product, service or relationship.

#1 It’s the little things that really make a difference.
I expected to see a broom or even mop in the airport.  It’s how you clean floors, right?  However, somewhere along the way, someone went “outside the box” and suggested a specific way to tackle those scuff marks that ruin the appearance of the floor.  That extra effort (and creative approach) is just one way to ensure the environment looks as good as new, regardless of the traffic volume or time of day.

It’s no different in your business.  What small detail would allow you to go that extra mile to take your service over the top?

#2 Every role is important.
James L Heskett’s service profit chain theory highlights the importance of clearly defining your processes and relationships that create and sustain customer loyalty. One key factor is that every employee understands his/her role in customer service. And in a service organization, every person has a role. At the Detroit airport, an employee who cleans the airport is just as important as the person checking your bags.

So in your business, does everyone understand how their job impacts the customer experience?

#3 Service doesn’t operate on a 9-5 schedule.
In the service industry, we are never closed.  In an organization like an airport, that premise makes sense.  Flights depart as early as 5am and as late as midnight.  While your business may have specific office hours, the mindset of service never takes a holiday.

What does this mean? It’s a matter of consistency and persistence.  How often do we keep our service expectations on the forefront of day to day conversations? Are we providing tools and resources to our team so they can effectively do their job? And are we holding employees accountable for their service performance? Your customers don’t take a day off; and we can’t afford to either.

A tennis ball created a level of service.  Who knew? So what is your “tennis ball”?  By the way, my flight took off on time that night.  Just another little product and indicator of great service, for what it’s worth.

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