So, I’m flying from Dayton to Abilene today on a 2-day trip. I found a good parking spot at the airport, security was a breeze and everything was running like a finely tuned watch.

So, I’m flying from Dayton to Abilene today on a 2-day trip. I found a good parking spot at the airport, security was a breeze and everything was running like a finely tuned watch. So much so that I even made it to my connection in Dallas early — just in time to catch an earlier flight to Abilene. I saddle up to the American Airlines gate jockey with boarding pass in hand, confident from the day’s earlier travel victories.

“Good afternoon, ma’am, I’m scheduled for the next flight to Abilene and, if you have open seats in this flight, I would like to fly standby.”

The nice lady assured me that the plane had plenty of seats available to Abilene, and she would be happy to let me have one on standby … for only $75!

“But, I have a ticket in-hand, for THIS airline, and THIS exact same trip – just two hours later,” I plead. “And you have UNUSED seats right here, right now.”

Well, since I have an extra 2-hours, I thought I’d write today about illogical service.

One of the cool parts about my job is that I get to travel the country meeting with credit unions and community banks and speaking at conferences. One of the terrible parts about my job is that I get to travel…!

The American Airlines annoyance was simply the right-hook to a one-two punch of stupidity and illogical decisions today. I’d like to share both experiences with you as a warning to reconsider YOUR service experience.  

Just two hours before the American Airlines attendant was handcuffed by policy and technology, I enjoyed a conversation about logic with

You see, thanks to the before-mentioned frequency of travel, I had earned a free “Reward” night stay through and used it for my family’s upcoming vacation. A free night! My “Customer Happy-Meter” was pushing 11 on the ol’ 1-10 scale.

Due to a family emergency, we had to postpone our trip by a few days and push the reservation back. No problem, right? Well, you’d think.

I was told by the phone “teller” that because I booked it as a “Reward” night, it could not be canceled.

“Great! I’m not asking to cancel anything,” I politely reminded them, “I’m looking to rebook at the same hotel, 48 hours later.”

No problem, I could simply forfeit the free night on the original reservation and book the new night at full price.

Seriously, that was the answer. I had worked for months to save up for a “reward” that, after using, I lose because I want to move the reservation through the SAME site and the SAME hotel to a room that is the SAME rate. My “Customer Happy-Meter” crashed and burned.

Both of these examples share 3 common traits:

  1. They defy logic: I was asking for nothing extra or special. Aside from a few key strokes, no resources would have been consumed to fulfill my requests.
  2. They affected an EXISTING customer: It’s hard enough to earn a customer at all, let alone one willing to be loyal enough to acquire rewards. Both American Airlines and had cash in-hand and destroyed the experience.
  3. Customer-facing staff had no authority: In both instances, the rep clearly understood the stupidity of the situation and in BOTH instances, they used the ol’ standby phrase, “There’s nothing I can do.”
Regardless of the illogical decisions made around a boardroom table, a company must allow their front line team the autonomy to do what’s right for customers.
Please, take a close look at your existing policies. I have a credit union client that charged a $1 “member fee” to each new member. When asked why they added this hurdle to acquisition, they simply replied, “That’s the way it’s always been.” That fee was gone within a week.
We need to look at the world through our customer’s eyes. If there is anything that is an annoyance and does not significantly contribute the the bottom line, then it stands to significantly detract from the bottom line.








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