Customer Service, Trust and Airlines?

I just returned home from an overseas trip. I have observed some of the best and some of the worse customer service seems to occur in the travel industry. This trip was no exception and I wanted to share my experience as an example for those in the customer service business (that should be all of us).

I fly on many different airlines, but more often than not I fly on Delta. There is a particular Delta pilot, Jeff, that I met a last year on an international flight. I am not sure how it happens, but he has been the Captain on several of my international flights over the last 12 months.  What does Jeff do that is special? He stops and talks to passengers. He is authentic, and noticeable interested in his 'customers'.  Jeff recognizes me, and will go out of his way to talk to me. He even stopped and talked to me once when we ran into each other while he was with his wife on vacation. He ask about my travels, my job and my family. He even stopped me on the way through customs today to offer a travel suggestion. He did this AFTER apologizing for a mechanical problem that delayed our departure out of Tel Aviv. He apologized a number of times. He has become a friend.

Now, a 'bad' example. I am on the second leg of my flight home (as I type this). Have you ever noticed that some flight attendants seem to see their role as that of the 'enforcer', while others see their job as that of an 'agent'? What do I mean?  The flight attendant on this flight has a terrible attitude.  She is solely interested in herself and showing her authority. On an earlier flight this week, the flight attendants had wonderful attitudes. They accomplished the same job, while leaving the customers feeling good about the experience. Was it the same 'job'? Not really, one was an agent, the other an enforcer. One was just doing her job, the other was creating an experience.

In "Trust Agents", Chris Brogan and Julien Smith.. share an little equation for trust that looks like this: (C x R X I) / S = T.  The C stands for credibility; R for reliability; I for intimacy; and the S for self-orientation. I really like this book, and love this simply equation.  One key element of good customer service would seem to be trust. Jeff, the Delta pilot, has all of right elements and I have come to trust him. I have met many pilots and flight attendants over the years and the ones that maximize trust offer the best customer service. (Read the book .... it's good).

By the way, the 'bad' attendant even missed our entire row when serving drinks. Perhaps she knew I was typing about her. I was not impressed. I will be writing Delta, but not about the bad experience - I want to recognize Jeff and his amazing work.

What do you think?