After having worked for Disney for so many years, I’ve learned to notice the little details. Sometimes, they can make the greatest impact in the story you’re trying to tell or the experience you’re trying to create.

Dissecting a Remarkable Experience

When I studied French, one of my favorite phrases I learned and used often was je remarque que (I noticed that…”). I also liked the word remark because it’s the root of the word remarkable. As an unofficial anthropologist in human behavior, I love to discover people doing an ordinary job in an extraordinary or remarkable way.

Meet Ms. Tomaka Klem, a flight attendant with Delta Airlines’ regional jet from Los Angeles to Sacramento.

As we teach about mindfulness and customer service, it’s not just about what she did…it’s how she made you feel. To be more precise, it’s not just what she did, it’s how she did it. You could get a robot to do many of her daily job tasks, but it was the manner in which she did them that was special, thus making me and her other customers feel special. Here’s why.

1. From the very first impression, I knew she was different. Ms. Klem stood facing us at the door of the plane, and greeted us all with a warm smile. She made eye contact and also gave a very slight nod or bow – sort of like a cowboy who slightly tilts his head and hat toward you in a gesture of “hello”, “good day” or “howdy ma’am”, but without saying a word.

Her smile was sincere. I think this was because she was smiling with both her mouth and her eyes. She also said softly and in a heavy Japanese accent, “Good morning and welcome aboard.” So why was this so special? So remarkable? Because most flight attendants don’t give their full attention when greeting you. They’re usually multi-tasking (busy breaking up ice or getting ready for the next flight). They don’t face their entire body and head toward you. Body language books tell us that one of the unintended consequences of this kind of behavior is that we end up giving the other person the “cold shoulder” because we’re speaking or interacting with someone while looking over our shoulder.

2. Using my name. There is nothing more astonishing than when a stranger walks up to you and calls you by name.

“Hello, Mr. Poore, may I take your coat and get you a drink before we take off?”

At first you might think it strange. “How did she?? Oh yeah … she has my name on the flight manifest!” But why is this so remarkable? Because even though every airline has a list of their passengers, they don’t use it. At least not as often as she did. And for the record, she carried that name seating chart everywhere she went.

3. Forcefield analysis. But the one thing that I really remarked as special and unique is how she spoke with each individual passenger – as if they were the only person on the plane. When she approached you, it was all about you. She called your name. Then she got down to your eye level, lowering herself in the aisle almost kneeling. She faced you with her entire body and her eyes and she smiled. It made you feel like you two were in a brief forcefield or bubble. When she was finished, she stood and addressed another passenger in the exact same way … forcefield … BOOM!

4. Fond farewell. Her last impression was her best and most lasting impression. She went to each and every passenger and thanked them for flying Delta by saying, “Mr. Poore, we know you have a choice in airlines, and we are so thankful you chose to fly Delta. Please come back and see us.” BOOM again!

Suffice to say I, too, am glad I chose to fly Delta yesterday. And I will choose them again tomorrow because of people like Tomaka Klem. I hope by then she has somehow taught her ways to others.

Why? So that this remarkable experience today becomes business as usual for Delta, tomorrow. 





adjective: remarkable

1     worthy of attention; striking.”a remarkable coincidence”

   2     synonyms:
          3        extraordinary, exceptional, amazing, astonishing, astounding, marvelous, wonderful, sensational, stunning, incredible, unbelievable, phenomenal, outstanding, momentous; out of the ordinary, unusual, uncommon, unique, surprising; informal fantastic, terrific, tremendous, stupendous, awesome; literary wondrous “a remarkable coincidence”

How important is personalized customer service to your overall experience on an airplane, in a grocery store, at the mall, or at your hair salon? I’d love to hear some of your memorable and remarkable experiences and even some that may have fallen short and left a bad impression. Leave a comment below or tweet me @jakepoore