The Customer is Always...

When I started this blog, I was all about airside. I was an aerodrome inspector, after all, and for me, it was all about the planes. Then I went and got a job running an airport and I had to start worrying about that other category of customer, passengers. Generally, our airport operates smoothly. We have a very high percentage of routine travellers who know the drill and probably even know the staff. Actually, now that I think about it, that could lead to complacency if we are not careful.

But we have had a couple of very minor events involving "disgruntled passengers". The most recent one revolved around a remark made by an airport staff member that wasn't taken in the spirit, in which, it was perhaps offered. It wasn't by itself offensive, it just didn't suit the situation.

The matter has been dealt with quite effectively by the team but I backed it up with some recent discussion on passenger interaction at our weekly toolbox talk.

To make my point, I borrowed (stole) from one of the greatest flight attendants of all time - John Witney.

John Witney
John Witney

I've taken from John's teachings that all pax have the H.A.L.T characteristics. They are most likely:

  • Hungry
  • Angry
  • Lonely; and
  • Tired

Therefore, they might not be up for a joke. They might not even want to chat. They might be rushing back to their fathers beside for his final moments and they just got bumped off the flight due to weight issues and they left their wallet in the taxi!

I offered the advice to the team that they should strive to be vanilla. Sweet, inviting, capable of complementing and enhancing nearly everything thrown at them. Be receptive and open but don't venture too much. Play it safe but friendly.

Maybe this is too conservative but CS is not an area that I am overly familiar with. Luckily for the team, they don't just have to rely on my plagiarised and ill-thought out advice. The contractor is going to organise some formal training in customer service.

I think I might sit in on that too.