LIVE FROM DALLAS – 6/9/12
OK –here’s a concept that is new to us. Every Southwest base has a Customer Service Desk – that’s what they call that desk that is now in ATL in the corner where our mailboxes used to be. I see it as a place to find answers from the sups on duty, to pick up bulletins, or to ask questions. What I didn’t know is that it is a “Customer Service Desk” and that WE are the customers! I am so accustomed to only crossing the line between inflight and management if I am answering to them (as in signing for points, answering a customer complaint, or maybe picking up a revision). When I first saw this desk in ATL, I just assumed it was bringing those things a little closer and maybe a little more accessible. But today our trainer told us that they are there FOR US! It’s like they are our vendors, there to assist, support and do whatever we need to get our job done. It certainly doesn’t mean that they are there to be abused, but after more than 16 years here, I still am having a hard time believing that I have moved into this world where “service” is a two way street.
This has been a day of “WOWs”. Actually, “WOW” has sort of become our class’s mantra. We say it quite often because we continue to be bowled over by the extent to which Southwest will go to support their employees so that we, in turn, support their customers. Imagine this – if you rip a uniform piece, there are replacement pieces available. If you spill a Bloody Mary on a customer’s white cashmere sweater, you have a cleaning voucher to provide as an apology for a simply human error. And provisioning, which is the catering department here, (wait, are you ready for this…….) MOPS THE BATHROOM FLOORS! Imagine having the ability (with conditions) to trade a trip while you are on a trip – and I mean in the air! An Entertainment Kit for UM’s! Less hours (not many – don’t get too excited!) of recurrent training just because Southwest flies all the same aircraft! I am hyperventilating on “WOWs”.
The things that are provided to a Southwest Flight Attendant to enable him/her to do their job are amazing. I now understand why they don’t hide from scheduling here – every department helps every other one in the true Spirit of the Golden Rule (are you noticing the capital letters in strange places? That is the Southwest way. They actually have a list of words that, in all of their communications pieces, are capitalized - the important things. I don’t know that I got them right, but I know “Spirit” is one of them!). There is a form for so many things and scads of information provided (some with pictures to make it easier to identify at a glance!). My favorite is the use of a simple beverage napkin to communicate names and numbers with the flight deck – another daily task that embodies the very beginning of this airline, a simple triangle on a beverage napkin (if you are not familiar with this story, you really should read “Nuts!”).
We have spent, and will continue to spend many hours in the classroom while we are here. But what we are learning, besides the Southwest way of doing things (Did I say, WOW!?) is clearly defined rules that govern how we treat each other and our customers. No one will walk out of here without knowing exactly what is expected of them on a daily basis. It is now up to us to succeed here, or not. I have no doubt that my future here will be a long one!
I hear from many of you that you “eagerly await” my posts each day so I just want to forewarn you that tomorrow is a well-deserved day off for SMT Class 256 so don’t expect to hear from me until Monday night (and I will do my best to live up to that promise considering there is another Deck Party!!).