“A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” – Tim Cahill

Maria crisscrosses the country on a regular basis for her work. It’s an existence that comes with all of the normal trials and tribulations of travel, things that an experienced traveler lets roll off her back. But on a recent trip, Maria faced a situation that upset her greatly. After being given travel advice by a customer service representative, Maria returned her car and showed up a day early for her flight home. However, upon arriving at ticketing, she discovered that she had been given incorrect information. To add insult to injury, the representative she was dealing with was incredibly rude and disrespectful. Maria was so taken aback by being treated so poorly that she began crying and fled the area.

This is where her day began to do a 180. Overhearing the events taking place and seeing an obviously distraught Maria, a representative from a neighboring desk ran across the lobby to her. She offered to take her bag as she listened attentively to what had been going on, why Maria was so upset. She was understanding and compassionate, and tried her best to make the situation right. Ultimately, she could not fix the problem, but Maria greatly appreciated her initiative in attempting to correct things when she saw a colleague doing everything wrong.

Maria’s day continued with travel plans she managed to scrape together via another company. When she went to check in there, she found out that she could not do so until that evening. Crestfallen, she was however, willing to accept her fate. However, the wonderful representative who had delivered the disappointing news immediately picked up on an opportunity to help Maria and went out of her way to delight her customer by moving her to an earlier flight, waiving the fee, and ensuring she was listed for the expedited security line. “I swear the lady was an angel from Heaven….She was the kindest woman and never asked me why I was tear streaked – she was just patient and kind.”

Like most customers out there, Maria’s poor experience with one representative created a problem that was difficult for the company to recover from. The company compensated her “for my time and frustration of having to deal with the situation, but it was the nastiness of the original employee I met at the airport that I had the real issue with.” This terrible customer service experience also created an opportunity for another company to foster a new relationship as highlighted by Maria’s experience later in the day. “A little generosity goes a long way when you’re in that type of customer facing role, either over the phone or physically in front of the customer.”

Customers do not always come into contact with us while happy; they may have had a trying experience somewhere else. By being perceptive, we can pick up on these opportunities to help customers feel better by fixing problems other companies may have created for them.