Using Service Powers for Good

I traveled to South Carolina a few months ago to meet some buddies. As always, after I deplaned, I walked over to the Enterprise counter to pick up my car. When I got in my car, though, it was really dirty… so back to the counter I went. The Enterprise staff member told me it was going to take an hour to clean the car, and that there weren’t any other vehicles in my class left. He could sense my frustration and disappointment and quickly offered another solution. “How about I give you this full-size luxury vehicle? We’ll keep your charges the same because it isn’t your fault that the car was dirty and that there aren’t any other cars available in the class you selected. And, because we should have had that car cleaned, I’m going to give you some credits to defray the fuel costs that that luxury vehicle will incur.”

I was speechless. I asked him if he was a manager and he said he was just an employee on his shift. I begged to differ; he wasn’t just an employee, he was an empowered service professional. Without holding a managerial title, this employee had gone above and beyond to provide exceptional service—and he had done so because he had been given the flexibility and power from his superiors to assess each situation and come up with the best service solution for that situation.

This flexibility—this power—is freeing. To know that you have the support of your superiors in whatever decision you make (within reason) to accommodate the customer gives you the confidence to reach new super service standards. That’s why I always rent Enterprise, I always fly Southwest, and I continue to encourage flexibility, creativity, and autonomy in Optimal’s client service executives.

What do you think?

  • Do you think premium service is directly linked to empowering those on the front lines of customer interaction?
  • Do you think there are cases in which providing this power could be detrimental to the company?
  • Do you have a story about someone using their service powers for good?