Another Birthday Surprise. Coincidence? I Think Not!

Photo Credit: Jeremy Watkin

Not long ago I was in the air somewhere between San Jose and San Diego when the Southwest flight attendant instructed everyone to close their window shades because we had a birthday to celebrate. We were then instructed to push our flight attendant buttons and the blue light would act as birthday candles as the passengers and crew sang “Happy Birthday” to a delighted little boy. At the end he blew out the candles (as we pushed the buttons to turn the blue lights off).

What a great experience and a wonderful thing to do for this little boy! So great in fact that I could have sworn I’d heard it before. Lo and behold I searched our blog and discovered that Jenny Dempsey wrote about this very experience a couple years ago. So why would I write about the same experience again? Are we that desperate for something to write about?

The truth about surprise and delight

When we started this blog several years ago it was all about discovering both positive and negative customer experiences and extracting the lessons we could learn from them. We especially became enamored with those experiences that went viral and may have been guilty of trying to create them on our own customer service teams. Admittedly some were  1-off experiences where we delighted customers.

The key to the greatness of Southwest Airlines isn’t simply that Jenny and I were witness to a couple birthday celebrations on their flights. Their greatness lies in the fact that they consistently do this on their flights every day. A quick Google search said Southwest has roughly 4,000 flights each day. I’d imagine that a good portion of those each day involve  birthday celebrations.

For customer service and customer experience leaders, here’s the lesson:

To truly surprise and delight, pick something you can do well for your customers every day and do it consistently.

This advice works for companies, teams, and individuals alike. What is it that you strive to do consistently for your customers? Leave us a comment and share your experience below.

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Jeremy Watkin is Director of Customer Experience and Support at NumberBarn. He has more than 19 years of experience as a customer service and contact center professional leading high performing teams in the contact center. Jeremy has been recognized numerous times as a thought leader for his writing and speaking on a variety of topics including quality management, outsourcing, customer experience, contact center technology, product marketing, social media, and more. When not working you can typically find him spending quality time with his wife Alicia and their three boys, running with his dog, or dreaming of native trout rising for a size 16 elk hair caddis. Be sure to connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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