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Customer Service and Being a Brand Ambassador

The best examples of customer service don’t normally come from the airlines. In fact, they are notoriously terrible at customer service. But after a recent flight I had on Delta Airlines, I feel compelled to share a great one with you.


Like some of you, I fly a ton for work and subsequently have the highest status on Delta (Diamond Medallion.) I fortunately get upgraded to first class often, but other than the Twix bars and extra legroom, there really isn’t anything special about it. It’s not that Delta’s service is bad, but in my opinion, they fail to take advantage of the many opportunities to wow their customers.

But this experience was different. I was on the last leg of a six-city, eight-day trip and was exhausted. That first class upgrade came at the right time and I planned to catch up on a few emails and sleep. My “expectation meter” however, was low.

I settled in for the three-hour flight and my flight attendant Beverly (“Bev”) showed up with a smile on her face and a refreshingly warm personality. Not only did she acknowledge me for being a diamond medallion, but she treated me in a way that can be summed up in one word: special.

I asked for nothing, but received everything.

  • First choice as to lunch selection? Done! (A Diamond status perk I was unaware of.)
  • “Upgrade” from macadamia nut cookie to a delicious chocolate brownie? Done! (How did she know I loved chocolate?)
  • Fresh coffee with that cookie? Done!
  • Perhaps a splash of Bailey’s? Done!

Ok. Some of you may be thinking: Big deal! That type of service should be expected in first class. However, being acknowledged and more importantly, treated as a high priority customer is rare. Most importantly, that type of great service makes a significant impact on the perception of a brand – enough of an impact that I am writing this newsletter and sharing it with you.

So here are a few questions as you kick off this busy week: How do you treat your most loyal customers and prospects? Do you fascinate or frustrate them?

Exemplary service is much more than just offering an extra “widget” or saying, “thanks for being our customer.” It’s about making a connection that makes your customer feel special – i.e. appreciated, unique, and valued. And it goes a long way in building loyalty – another rare and precious commodity in business.

After the flight, I thanked Bev for being awesome and told her she gave the best service I ever had on Delta. What she then said really impacted me. “Mr. Waldman, I know when I step aboard this plane, it’s up to me to set the tone for the entire flight.”

She summed it up perfectly. You ultimately set the tone for your customer’s experience. Not your co-worker, boss, or manager. Service is a mindset. And you have to own it.

Bev was an outstanding brand ambassador for Delta and as a result, my perception of Delta soared. It negated some of the poor service I received in the past from Delta and reinforced my trust in them as my preferred airline. I do hope they continue to impress.

Today, it’s critical to be an ambassador of your company’s brand, and that includes everyone on your team, regardless of their role. Finally, your service must be consistent across the board. After all, brand loyalty is built one encounter at a time, and it’s destroyed the same way.

Thank you Bev – for making my flight home special. Even after 35+ years as a flight attendant, you still know how to be a great wingman.

Never Fly Solo,