Thursday, October 29, 2009

An amazing customer service experience

Since I often grumble about customer service, when traveling, I want to share an amazing positive experience.

As is my practice, I arrived early at the Madison, Wisconsin Airport and, after an intense two days of travel, conference-going and an 8:30 AM panel, I decided on a leisurely lunch. I chose a sit down restaurant, at a nice looking establishment called ‘The Great Dane’ ordered a Reuben sandwich and a beer, which I consumed slowly, answered emails on my iPhone and made calendar notations on my computer. All was well with the world. As my flight time approached I exchanged pleasantries with my waitress, left her a generous tip, packed up my portable technologies and departed - leaving my winter jacket, with a recently purchased pair of Gortex gloves in the pocket, hanging on the back of the chair. This, I realized only as I crowded into the pack of a ‘regional jet’ five minutes before departure. There was no hope of retrieving the garment.

How could this happen? When traveling, I have a regimen of checking to forestall absentmindedness. My ‘travel vest’ has designated pockets for iPhone, passport, wallet, glasses, iPod, and plane tickets. When I departed the restaurant for my flight, all were in place. But for the past six weeks, I had been traveling mostly in Asia and a winter jacket simply was not part of my travel habit pattern. In the plane, I took a few moments to accept my fate and possible beneficial lessons I would glean from the experience. In January, I will be traveling from Iceland to Brussels to Singapore and It will be important to not to leave my winter clothing behind.

But wait....I had a credit card slip that included the telephone number of the restaurant. When I called from Detroit, a most pleasant member of the wait-staff said that yes, they had found my jacket and it was safe in the managers office. It would be waiting for me when I returned to Madison, except that, I explained, that would not be until next year’s South Asia Conference. She had no guidelines for this, but said her manager would call me on Monday. On Monday afternoon, he did. Much to my surprise and delight he said he would be happy to mail me my jacket. I have not doubt that in his rebirth he will attain Nirvana or be well on the road.

Should you be passing through the Madison Airport or other airports, please patronize the Great Dane Restaurant. The food is good, the beer is great and the customer service is other-worldly.

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