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Salad, Alzheimer’s, and Spectacular Service

September 18, 2013

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Because of the needs of this couple, food and beverage service was delayed and a little frantic. No one complained. A feeling of goodwill could be felt throughout the cabin. It was evident by the warm smiles on the faces of the passengers. Everyone spoke in quiet tones. We recognized that our needs for a cup of juice and bag of pretzels were trivial.Exceptional customer service sometimes comes in waves. This was the case for me when I traveled to San Antonio to present a full-day seminar at the Boys & Girls Clubs of America National Conference in the Marriott River Center Hotel. During the lunch break, the room cleared and I began setting up for the afternoon session.When I finally made my way downstairs to get lunch, the restaurant was full. I didn’t have enough time to leave the hotel to grab a sandwich but I spotted a small coffee counter in the lobby.  I zipped down the escalator and asked the clerk if they had salads or sandwiches. She told me that normally they do, but they were sold out. She suggested the restaurant. I told her it was too busy and I only had fifteen minutes to eat and get back to my seminar. She smiled at me and said, “Wait right here!”Later that same day, on a Frontier Airlines flight home, there was an elderly woman on board who had Alzheimer’s disease. She was incontinent and our take-off was delayed by twenty minutes as she struggled in the restroom. The flight attendant helped her the entire time. She had to leave the restroom door open so she could wrap her arms around this woman in order to keep her from falling. The woman’s frail, elderly husband stood nearby, watching the scene with gratitude. Another attendant discretely closed the curtain to the main cabin to preserve this couple’s dignity.I was seated near the restroom. The sounds and odors were not pleasant but I focused instead on the flight attendant’s kindness, reassuring words, and soothing tone of voice. When this husband and wife were gently escorted back to their seats, the rest of the passengers breathed a collective sigh of relief. But the ordeal wasn’t over. The entire scene was repeated two more times before our flight reached its destination.I was reminded once again of the power of compassion as I observed the patience and loving care delivered by that flight attendant. Spectacular customer service is often simply a matter of letting someone know that you care.Then to my surprise and delight, this clerk asked a co-worker to cover for her. She literally ran up the escalator. Five minutes later she ran back with a beautiful salad in hand. She had run to the kitchen, prepared the salad herself and threw in a complimentary can of Pepsi to thank me for my patience. Imagine that. She was thanking me!

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