Saturday, February 15, 2014
Not Always A Nasty Customer
As frontliner in the service line, we are likely to encounter nasty customers which is part and parcel of our job - like it or not. Still on my good old days with KLM in the swinging 80s, such encounter was a norm to us and it remains so till today whoever that duty personnel is. Suffice to say, our job was quite mundane but the different encounters at the check-in, arrival hall and boarding gate made our job interesting.
During flight preparation for each departure, we used to assign seats requested by our passengers. Some wanted buck-head seats for more leg space or to install bassinet for their infants, some wanted aisle, some window, some smoking and some non-smoking, so on and so forth. In a full flight situation, it is definitely not possible to meet all requests and most passengers would understand. It can't be helped when the first station and in our case, Jakarta took up most of the the popular seats and that left us with limited choices. We used to be at loggerhead with them. Buck-head seats are usually reserved for family travelling with infant but if there are few families with infants on that particular flight, it can prove quite a challenge to us - which family deserves more?
During my days with KLM at the airport, I have had handled very very nasty and unreasonable customers when their demands were not met. More often than not, it was the sticky seating situation. Excess baggage was another common subject for their complaints too. However, getting bumped off when the flight was overbooked is another matter altogether. They banged their fists at the counter, they raised their voice loudly, they threatened to complain to our higher management, just anything to get what they had demanded. Do we shout back? No, of course. We would try and try to see if we could find alternatives for them. They could see with their own eyes that we did try our level best and we may not be successful. During that period, they started to cool down and reasonable thought then seeped into them. At the departure gate, when you saw them for the final time, they would usually apologise for their behaviour. I received such apology one too many times. Just too bad, it did not dawn on my 'ang moh' Station Manager at that time to accord me a letter of commendation. Hey, that elusive letter of commendation aside but when we hear the three magic words, "I am sorry", it melts us and this renders our job as service personnel all the more satisfying. Thank you for flying with KLM, it's a great way to fly!