The Airport Shuttle Ride that was an Amazing Experience

If you fly into Cleveland and need to rent a car…. 

OK, that’s an unlikely scenario, but for the sake of today’s story, imagine that it’s possible. 

If you fly into Cleveland and need to rent a car, I hope you get to ride the shuttle with Felicia.  

It’s not that Felicia is a particularly adept shuttle bus driver. She clipped a curb or two in the ten-minute ride from the airport to the rental car center.  

That’s the “what you do” bit of this story. Our takeaway today is all about the “how.” 

Felicia’s got a pretty good “how.” 

Cleveland Hopkins International is a fine airport. It’s not huge but it has a quirk of geography that requires a shuttle from the terminal to the spot where all the rental car agencies are located. There’s no option. You have to get on the shuttle.   

Felicia probably makes that drive about 40 times a day. Maybe more.  

This is a repetitive task. Same route. Same bleary-eyed set of travelers, only with different T-shirts.  

It would be easy to stare off into the distance watching jets drop on the landing strip and wonder what to make for dinner. 

Or, you could personalize the journey like Felicia and make it memorable, at least for the kids and parents on board. 

Felicia talked about her kids, grandkids and her first great grandkid. She asked questions of the kiddos. And then she did her song. 

“The wheels on the bus go round and round…” 

You know the tune. But then it became more theatrical.  

“The wipers on the bus go slap, slap, slap,” with an accompanying squirt of washer fluid.  

“The horn on the bus goes, beep, beep, beep.” Three toots of the horn. 

“The seat on the bus goes up, up, up.” And this is where it got a little concerning as she bumped up three notches, but still, it was good.  

The kids loved it. The parents were happy for the diversion.  

And you couldn’t help but jump in with, “all around the town” at the end of each verse.  

It was a memorable little moment in a long day of travel. 

It’s also a great example of “How You Do What You Do,” one of the central themes of OnStage, the customer experience training we teach at FiveFour.  

There are opportunities at every step of the customer journey where, with intention and creativity, the routine or mundane tasks can be turned into memorable experiences.  

Book a time with me and we’ll discuss where to find those moments in your business.  

Talk soon.

Is your customer experience better than an airport janitor?

Travel has been picking up again lately and so I found myself at the Sioux Falls airport a couple of hours in advance of my flight.

I’m not usually there that far ahead of time, but my wife dropped me off on the way to work and I was planning to work in the business lounge while waiting for my flight.

I also don’t usually check a bag, but I had to this time.

Thus, I found myself alone at the ticket counter without an American Airlines employee in sight.

That’s when a janitor came by pushing his cart and said, “They probably won’t be there for another 30 minutes.”

He must have seen the annoyed look on my face, so he explained why and then said that the coffee shop was open and there was a place to plug in my laptop.

I was impressed. He read the situation and gave me a solution.

But it got better.

After I had been sitting for 15 minutes working, that same janitor stopped by the coffee shop and said, “It looks like someone is at the gate now.”

Wow.

I’m pretty sure that none of what he did for me was included in his job description. And I’m pretty sure he was an employee of the airport, not American Airlines, who I was waiting for.

But he clearly felt a sense of ownership that led him to take care of me, the customer.

When I teach companies how to create a remarkable customer experience, the first concept we discuss is time – time is the currency of experiences. This isn’t my concept. It comes from visionaries Joe Pine & Jim Gilmore.

It’s not your product or service that creates the experience. It’s the time your customers spend with you. Honoring the customer’s time means two things:

  1. Being efficient with their time (time well saved)
  2. Making their time valuable (time well spent)

This janitor did both. When he was first confronted with my problem, he couldn’t make the gate attendant get there any faster. But he could show me where the coffee shop was.

Then, once the attendant was at the ticket counter, he minimized my wait by letting me know of their arrival.

He honored my time.

If you want to know how well you honor your customer’s time as well as how you perform on the other four components of a remarkable customer experience, just take this short assessment.

Because, as that janitor demonstrated, every member of the team has a part to play in creating a remarkable customer experience.