It's not that hard: Do it. Do it right. Do it right now.
by Jon W. Sparks
I recently was flying into the Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport from Tokyo, a numbing 12-hour experience on All Nippon Airways that was made tolerable by being able to score some extra wasabi sauce.
As we taxied to the gate, a flight attendant uttered my name over the intercom and said that I should check in with ground personnel on arrival.
Having your name announced over a PA is unsettling. I checked texts, but all seemed quiet at home. The Boeing 777 slowly, slowly extruded its passengers as I nurtured my anxiety, thinking that I had to navigate customs and go to another concourse in short order.
When I finally stepped out of the door, a young man with ANA was there holding a card with my name on it. Ashish Adhikari greeted me and briskly explained that because of the hurdles to be jumped in a relatively short turnaround time, that he would help me get through it.
I was delighted and puzzled. I was a mere economy class traveler and they’d done their job, which was to get me safely to the gate.
But this was a case of an airline that saw an issue, took ownership of it, and moved affirmatively to make sure all went well.
I followed Ashish — we were doing all this on the run — and he said that he’d help me get through customs quickly. Yeah, sure. But he said, “Really, there’s an app. Get it.”
So I found Mobile Passport, which claimed it would let you breeze through customs and was officially authorized by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. And I’m thinking it’s too good to be true. But my minder guided me through it, helping me scan my passport, and watching as I took a selfie and filled in the info that normally is scribbled down on a form on the plane.
By the time I’d done that, he had me in a line for customs. And I was at the head of it because it was just for people with the app. I looked over to the left and saw a long snake of a queue where everyone else was lined up. “Not many people know about this app,” my new friend said. I marched up to the agent, he scanned the info on the app, and said, “OK, you’re done.”
My impulse was to say, “Are you sure?” I did not, however, and grabbed my luggage and scooted away.
Ashish was still with me. “OK,” he said. “Now I’m going to take you to the shuttle train you need to take to get to your Delta flight. When you arrive, go up the stairs and the Delta agents will be on your left and they can take care of you from there.”
But nobody took as good care of a flyer as this personable and efficient ANA agent, who enjoyed working for a company that knows a thing or two about customer service.
And the lesson couldn’t be any clearer for those in the service industry. See a problem, own it, and take care of business.
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