It was a perfect April morning. The birds were chirping, the coffee was brewing, and my beautiful wife (of 2 days) reminded me that it was our honeymoon. As if I could forget…
Our bags had been packed for weeks so minimal preparation was required. This was the moment we had been waiting for. The wedding weekend was a dream come true, but it was exhausting. The honeymoon was our chance to escape and relax.
Our Dream Became a Nightmare
My wife and I fly A LOT. Most of our flights are direct because Charlotte is a hub for U.S. Airways. Unfortunately, there was no direct route, over the big pond, to our final destination of Athens. So, our loyalty was tested, and we were forced to fly Delta. Like many Delta flights, we were to be routed through Atlanta with a brief pit stop in Paris. If a layover was mandatory, seeing the Eiffel Tower was a nice consolation.
According to Murphy’s Law, if something can go wrong, it will.
And it did.
Our flight from Charlotte to Atlanta was delayed. We arrived safely, but we were so late that our flight to Paris was in jeopardy.
If you have never stepped foot in the Atlanta airport, consider yourself lucky (it’s not actually that bad, but I need to dramatize). It’s the busiest airport in the country (here is the proof if you do not believe me). As luck would have it, where we were arriving and where we were departing COULD NOT HAVE BEEN FURTHER APART. I decided to give you a nice visual so that you can picture the newlyweds hauling ass. If you look closely, you can actually see some of the F bombs that we dropped.
I wasn’t kidding. We had to run from the last gate in Terminal A to the last gate in Terminal F. The green dots represent about 50 footsteps. Under normal conditions, the green dots would disappear as you approach the red line. That’s because the red line is The Plane Train. This is an underground Automated People Mover (APM) (I shit you not, it’s actually called a people mover. Not the most creative name in the world) which quickly carries passengers to their designated terminals. The Plane Train runs a total of 2.8 miles.
But, on this day, it was sitting still. Idle. Not moving.
I would assume most Americans would struggle to run 2 miles. As you can imagine, it’s much tougher when you’re carrying luggage.
Even with all of the obstacles we had to overcome, we still made it to the gate and found our plane sitting there. But, the gate agent told us that we couldn’t get on.
“There’s nothing we can do,” she said.
This innocent statement was a dagger to our overworked hearts.
Drenched in sweat, completely defeated, we picked ourselves up and headed to the Customer Service counter. I’m 75% sure I blacked out and/or had an asthma attack so I’m not sure what the conversation was like. But, we were eventually placed on a flight to Amsterdam. It was no Paris (1st world problems).
If you’re still reading, here is the part that actually matters.
Things Always Go Wrong
“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” – Charles R. Swindoll
Bad things happen. People make mistakes. Processes fail. This is a fact of life. As the quote above states, it’s how you respond to these events that determine (1) how happy you’ll be and (2) how successful you’ll be.
If it was your honeymoon and you were supposed to have a layover in Paris, but didn’t, what would you do?
If you sprinted through the busiest airport in America, only to find that you couldn’t board your plane, what would you do?
Most people would rant.
They would open their Facebook app and update their status to:
WORST. DAY. EVER.
This would likely be followed by an extremely detailed account that fishes for compliments and sympathy from fellow Facebook friends. As good as this may feel to get off your chest, it doesn’t actually solve anything. And it’s annoying.
PROBLEM. NOT. SOLVED.
What To Do When Things Go Wrong
Companies are closer to their customers now than ever before. With the adoption of Social Media and data analytics, companies can SEE you: how old you are, what you like, where you shop, what you buy, etc. Thankfully, getting to the point of this article, they can also HEAR you.
Take It To Twitter
As quickly as information can travel nowadays and news can go viral, the last thing a company wants is negative news to appear on social media. Most credible companies have hired social media specialists to assist with customer service issues via TWITTER. From what I have seen, they are MUCH more helpful and MUCH more responsive than the traditional 1(800)-xxxx number.
See how easy that was? My wife and I just used our $200 worth of vouchers to travel elsewhere. What started as a HORRIBLE experience eventually worked itself out (as things usually do).
If a company screws up, give them a chance to correct the issue. They usually will.
I actually HOPE for things to go wrong now (only minor issues) because things usually work out BETTER than they otherwise would have.