Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word

Elton John wrote that song but it’s even more true in business than in relationships.  I’m at the airport in Boise, Idaho, where I spoke to about 100 CEO’s today.  When I checked in at United, I already had a boarding pass and simply needed to check my bag.  The single agent turned away the four passengers in front of me – they weren’t in first class and didn’t have Rewards Status and had to use the kiosk.  I was in first class so the guidelines allowed him to help me.

He asked where I was traveling to, I said, “Boston”, he thanked me and a minute later said my bag was checked through to Tampa!  I said, “I hope not, I’m going to Boston!”  He said, “I thought you said you were going to Tampa.”

No apologies, just, “Now I’ll have to do it over again.”

Later, at the gate, my flight to Chicago is delayed.  The gate agent said that it’s likely that all connections will be delayed too so she won’t be rebooking any flights.  I logged on to, checked the status of my flight from Chicago to Boston, and saw that it wasn’t delayed.  Thinking that they may not have current info, I checked on the flight from Boise to Chicago and it correctly showed that delay.  So I know my incoming flight is delayed, my outgoing flight is on time and I won’t make it.  When presented with that information, the gate agent said, “it’s likely that it will be delayed so I won’t rebook you.”

So what is a customer service article doing in a Blog on Sales Force Development?  Simple. These two incidents, by disinterested United employees, SELL me on avoiding their airline whenever possible because they DEMONSTRATE a lack of caring.  Still don’t know why this article is here?  In many companies that I’ve worked with, customer service did not come under the jurisdiction of a sales director, who had no influence on whether customer service reps continued to  SELL their customers on their good decision or caused customers to question their decision to do business with the company.

The sale doesn’t end when the sale is made.  It ends when someone screws it up!