I recently went on a quick road trip to Charleston, SC to visit a friend who I hadn’t seen in 8 years. The drive was quick on the way down because I was so excited to see my friend, and also to visit the Gibbes Museum (I’m an art museum geek). The drive on the way home was a different story.
It was a stormy day and the rain didn’t let up the entire drive back to Asheville. There were lots of wrecks due to the awful weather, and one very close call where I almost became the fourth car in a three-car pileup. I spilled iced tea all over myself when I slammed on the brakes, which did nothing for my already gloomy outlook. Every time I looked at my GPS my estimated time of arrival home seemed to be getting further and further away. I needed a break.
I took the next exit and pulled into a Pilot Travel Center. I pumped gas and thought about the Sour Apple Blow Pops I was about to treat myself to (my guilty pleasure when I’m on the road). When I entered the store, a Pilot staff member greeted me with a, “Welcome to – (gasp!) Omigoodness! What happened? I’ll get you some napkins.” She ran to the soda area and grabbed a handful of napkins to help me clean up. I was so touched by her immediate concern for me, and how quickly she reacted. She asked if I was cold and pointed out that they had hot coffee available if I needed to warm up and a hand dryer in the bathroom that would help dry out my shirt. My mood automatically lifted, and I made a beeline for that hand dryer!
After spending some time drying my shirt, I gathered my goodies – Blow Pops and yes, more tea! – and brought them to the checkout where I was greeted by two more staff members. These women were smiling, making eye contact, and also concerned for my welfare. I assured them that I was feeling much better now that I wasn’t soaking wet. We laughed and joked about the number of Blow Pops I was buying.
The was a dinging sound just as I was leaving the counter and I heard one staff member say to the other, “When you hear that ding, always call out a hello and a ‘welcome to Pilot’ to whoever is walking through the front door.”
I turned around and said, “Are you in training?” to the woman who had operated the cash register to check me out. She replied yes, and I praised both the trainer and trainee. I would never have guessed that I had been dealing with a new staff member while I was being served.
When we train teams, we talk about “making people happier than they were 10 seconds ago.” I left that Pilot Travel Center in a considerably better mood than I had entered – and it wasn’t because of the Blow Pops I had purchased. All three staff members at Pilot had made me feel welcomed and cared for. And isn’t that what we all need when we’re far from home and a bit worse for wear? Thank you to those wonderful women at Pilot for brightening the day of a weary traveler, and definitely making me happier than I was when I walked through the door. Your exceptional customer service did not go unnoticed.
Brandi Hand, Queen of Visibility, Red-Carpet Learning Systems