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I must interrupt this blog on “Uptown Life” for a brief story on how amazing life can be when customer service is done well.
In the past two weeks I have flown on Southwest Airlines three times. (Did I mention that I’m getting married here in 12 days and my parents live in Dallas, Texas?) Thanks to one of these trips, I had the most amazing customer service interaction of my life thanks to – drumroll, please – Southwest Airlines.
I know, I know, Southwest has the reputation of “flying summer camp air,” the cattle call-like boarding procedures leave something to be desired (though you do learn that many people who are smart enough to book a flight aren’t smart enough to line up by number) and sometimes, yes, they sing, rap and make bad jokes – but sometimes they’re not so bad.
On one of these travels, I lost my 3DS. For those of you who aren’t videogame geeks, a Nintendo 3DS is the latest incarnation (in 3-D!) of the Game Boy. And mine cost about $200. I don’t know how I lost it, and I didn’t even know that I had lost it … until I received a call on my cell phone from Sean. (Hi, Sean!)
After landing (at a time most people are arriving at work in the morning) a friend picked me and my fiancé up at the airport and took us to an early lunch. As we were finishing our leisurely meal, I went to check my work email from my phone. And that’s when I saw that I had three missed calls from an unknown number – and one voicemail.
The voicemail was from Sean, the very attentive steward who brought us our drinks and, by the way, mixes the best in-flight Bloody Mary I’ve ever had. He had found my 3DS, which had been turned off (as per in-flight instructions). He apologized for turning it on, but he did so to log in to the “user information.”
In that file he found my username (a pseudonym) and my date of birth. He then told me that he searched the passenger manifest, saw that I was the only one with that birth date and called my cell number (which Southwest has on file because I’m a "Rapid Rewards" member). He also said that if I could call the gate at which I landed at the number he was about to give me within the next hour, he would be there with it in his hands – otherwise he would have to turn it in to baggage.
Unfortunately, I missed my window of opportunity. When I called the gate no one knew of any “Sean.” So I called baggage – and left a message. As a last-ditch effort, I called Southwest’s 800-number.
After about 1 minute on hold, I was connected with “Ben” (I think that was his name; I’m sorry I don’t remember it as well!). He asked my reason for calling and I told him the whole story. After I finished there was a brief silence and then Ben chuckled and said that he had never heard a story like that before and asked if I could give him a couple minutes to look into the situation.
In about 2 minutes, Ben was back with good news: Baggage had a 3DS turned into them from the same flight I was on. But there was a little problem, the baggage claim office wouldn’t open the next morning until 7:30 a.m., about an hour after I needed to be checked-in for my flight back to New Orleans. When I told Ben that, he asked if I could hold on again, this time for a little bit longer. I replied, “Sure,” and offered to pay to have the game shipped, if that would make things easier.
About 3 to 4 minutes later Ben was back, again with good news. This time he told me that Brent at the gate management/customer service office in the terminal from which I would be flying out was going to be sure to be at work on time and would deliver my game to me, personally. All I needed to do was ask for Brent at my gate. Was there anything else he could do for me?
Well, with that great news, I was still slightly trepidatious. I mean, really, would anyone go out of their way that far for a stranger in the sea of strangers that airlines have to deal with every day?
I checked in, went to my gate and asked the stewardess to call Brent and tell him that I was there and could I please get my 3DS from him? She looked at me strangely, but called Brent on her walkie-talkie. He met me halfway between my gate and the customer service counter – with a smile. I told him that I wanted to hug him he had made me so happy; he replied that everyone was just happy they could return the game to me.
So, will I be flying Southwest in the future? I might even sing along.