Be The Revolution of Excellence in Customer Experience with Positively Outrageous Service!
You can only be the revolution. It is in your spirit, or it is nowhere.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed
A few years ago, I met some extraordinary Virgins! I was due to fly to a Healthcare Technology conference in Las Vegas from Dallas Love Field by the erstwhile Virgin America airline. There were two clients at this conference and had a program for one of them which included a video. The video was late in getting to me. But I had everything lined up. My Uber was waiting, I didn’t have bags to check and I was TSA pre-checked. I had this!
As we turn off the main road into the airport approach road my mobile phone rings. It’s not a number I recognize. Like most of us I depress the red button to hang up. The Uber pulls up to the curbside, the same number rings. Hit the red button again. Running through the terminal into TSA pre-check, put my bag on the conveyor belt, phone rings again, same number, somebody is really trying to get a hold of me specifically! I answer the phone.
“This is Brian with Virgin, we are about to close the gate!”
“I’m here!” I emphatically respond.
TSA man sternly motions me to hang up and get through the metal detector! I’m compliant.
Yes, that day, I was THAT passenger. You know the one!
“Mr. Szabo please come to Gate 11. This is the final call for boarding!”
I run through the terminal. I glance at the departure board. It’s 11:05 am and … the 10:20 am Virgin flight to Las Vegas is not listed. “What!” There’s a Southwest 10:15 am flight listed to New Orleans. How could this be?
Out of breath, heart racing, I get to Gate 11. It’s empty. No passengers. No Virgin employees. No one behind the counter! The door to the jetway is closed. Foolishly, I look down at the plane, how can this be? It’s only 10:07 am.
I am startled by the gate door opening. A tall man in a Virgin uniform comes through. I plead with him to let me on the plane.
“I have a client on the plane, I really need to get on … is there any way? Please!”
“Is your name Andrew?”
“Oh, I’m Brian … I was the one you hang up on earlier!”
Ouch! I cringe. Any possibility of me boarding vanishes in my mind. It’s the end of the road! Brian turns around and returns down the jetway closing the door. Defeated, I slump into a chair at the empty gate and turn on my mobile to figure out when is the next flight to Las Vegas and how to make the change.
A few minutes later the jetway gate door opens. I glance up to see it’s Brian. Not expecting anything I am startled as he opens the door wide and motions me to come and go down the jetway.
“Please board the plane Mr. Szabo!”
I am flabbergasted. My jaw must have dropped to the carpet!
“Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!”
I almost wanted to hug him. But thought better not push my luck! This is Positively Outrageous! I’m sure he and / or the flight captain broke a rule to let me on. Have you ever heard of anyone letting you on a plane after the gate has been closed? Never! This is Positively Outrageous Service!
Positively Outrageous Service is that WOW experience you can’t wait to tell another about!
My heart racing, briskly I make my way down the empty jetway to the plane fully expecting a shaming, perhaps some scowls or grimaces from the flight crew. I enter the plane and there are three Virgin flight attendants finalizing details. They turn to me with huge smiles, and greet me with total enthusiasm.
“Mr. Szabo we are so glad you made the flight today!”
“We are delighted to have you on board!”
A feather would have knocked me over! More Positively Outrageous Service! And by the way the flight still left on time!
Strong choices by great Virgins. Brian went over the top. He made a choice to see if it was possible to get me on the plane. The flight attendants made an intentional choice to welcome me and make me feel good. They probably guessed that I was stressed, not feeling great. They lowered my blood pressure and heart rate. I felt loved!
Positively Outrageous Service doesn’t have to be big or flamboyant. But it does require one to pay attention, to notice, and to make a choice.
I have told this story about these delightful Virgins countless times. I’m certain hundreds, if not a few thousand, have heard the story by now. And this is one of the hallmarks of Positively Outrageous Service! Positively Outrageous Service generates positive, compelling word-of-mouth advocacy. Positively Outrageous Service engenders intense loyalty … I’ll fly Virgin anytime I can. (Sadly, Virgin America was taken over by Alaskan Airways … and it hasn’t been the same since!) Finally, Positively Outrageous Service creates competitive differentiation.
Who doesn’t want these three benefits? I spend many years in marketing … I don’t know of any organization that wouldn’t crave to have this powerful triumvirate of positive, compelling word-of-mouth advocacy, intense loyalty, and competitive differentiation. All three directly attributed to Positively Outrageous Service and not any expensive advertising campaign! WOW!
So … this week start paying attention to opportunities, to make a choice, and give others the gift of Positively Outrageous Service!
We are all about re-igniting the revolution of excellence in customer experience. Remember, “You cannot make the revolution. You can only be the revolution. It is in your spirit, or it is nowhere.”