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Brett Nordquist (Customer Happiness Engineer)

Tale of Two Micro-Engagements

Written on April 7, 2017 by Brett Nordquist
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As I've mentioned before, I live in Southern Utah. But I travel to the offices of Puget Systems a few times each year. This gives me the opportunity to interact with a number of companies over a short period of time. Some marketers call these short interactions with customers micro-engagements. They might be short in duration, but smart companies understand how important they are in keeping customers happy. 

I'd like to share two such micro-engagements I had on my last trip to Seattle. 

Last week I arrived at the Las Vegas airport two hours before my flight to Seattle was scheduled to leave. LAS has two terminals conveniently named Terminal 1 and Terminal 3. While pulling into the parking garage area, it's easy to lose track of which airline matches the right terminal. I've made this mistake a few times and had to take a shuttle to the other terminal. I refer to this as the "shuttle of shame." 

I found a parking spot and made my way into Terminal 3. Although I had plenty of time, I couldn't wait to check the status of my flight on my phone using the Alaska Airlines app. My flight was on time but showed a gate that was located at Terminal 1. I couldn't believe it. How could I have botched this? 

I tried locating the departure screens to confirm the gate, but couldn't find them. It was 7:30 in the morning, and not a lot of airline employees or passengers were around. 

As I was about to locate a shuttle, I spotted a young man wearing an Alaska Airlines uniform. I asked him if he could take a look at my phone, which he did. I told him I might be at the wrong terminal. He looked at my phone and said, "Pull down to refresh the gate." The gate assignment for my flight changed. He then said, "Follow me." 

Over the next 5 minutes, I followed him up two sets of escalators, down a few hallways until I was at the security check. He then explained that my gate was down the hall past security. I thanked him and made my way through security and arrived at my gate with plenty of time to spare. 

My next interaction took place once I landed in Seattle. I took a shuttle from the terminal to the rental car facility. I located the rental company and got in line. As I was in line, I noticed the self-service kiosks and decided to jump out of line and give them a try. The kiosk located my reservation and asked to scan my driver's license. This is where things took a turn for the worse. 

The kiosk was unable to scan my driver's license. The next screen instructed me to insert my credit card and then see an associate who could manually enter my license details. I inserted my credit card and waited. It couldn't read my credit card. It asked me two more times before exiting to the main menu. I got back in line and waited my turn. 

When it was turn, I approached the counter and the woman looked up from her computer and said, "You couldn't figure out how to use the kiosk?" 

That's an odd opening question to pose to a customer. I wanted to say, "If you noticed me struggling at the kiosk, maybe you could offer to help?" but I kept my mouth shut. 

Over the next 20 minutes, the situation did not improve. The kiosk had put two authorizations on my credit card for the full amount of the rental. When the employee ran my card a third time, my credit card company flagged it as fraud and declined the charges. I still needed a rental car, but no amount of explanation was moving me towards that goal. I took a deep breath and stepped away from the counter to calm down. 

I left the airport in my friend's car. The next day I rented a car from a competing rental car company without any issues. Over the next week I spent time around the offices at Puget Systems and among a few friends. Of these two interactions with different companies, which do you think I shared with the most people? 

Tags: Service, Interaction, Loyalty