Captain Flanagan was featured in today’s “Simple Truths” newsletter, which focuses on great customer service (you can sign up for the free newsletter here). Check it out:
When I wrote the book, Customer Love, I shared this story about Captain Denny Flanagan:
As flight cancellations and delays wreak havoc on weary travelers, and planes are fuller than ever, the Wall Street Journal has managed to find a bright spot – United Airlines Captain Denny Flanagan.
On a flight headed your way, there is a pilot who is literally a gift from the heavens. For 21 years now, Flanagan, a former navy pilot, has put the friendly in friendly skies.
With his sense of humor and personal touch, he individually welcomes aboard every passenger on his United Airlines plane.
A father of five, Flanagan has also been known to buy food for planeloads of passengers on delayed flights. He snaps photos of dogs in the cargo hold to show owners their pets are safe and calls the parents of children traveling alone.
“I want to treat them like I treat my family and it works. It’s like hospitality. You stand at the door and you greet people when they come in and you say goodbye on the porch and wave to them,” said Flanagan, who is 56 and lives in Ohio.
His unique brand of hospitality includes sending handwritten notes to frequent flyers and raffling off bottles of wine.
“How ’bout that? A bottled of chilled chardonnay from a pilot,” said a delighted Paul Schroeder, a lucky United passenger.
He has developed quite a following in the air and online. One of the many posts on FlyerTalk.com about Flanagan read: “His effort rubbed off on the crew too, they were great.”
Attitudes are truly contagious, and Captain Flanagan’s is certainly worth catching!
But here, as the late Paul Harvey always said, is…”the rest of the story.”
Not long after the book’s release, I received a call from Captain Flanagan, who said, “Mac, I loved your book about customer service and I just wanted to thank you for including my story.” we talked for about 15 minutes and when I hung up, I knew that Denny Flanagan was “real,” and very passionate about not only being a good Captain for United Airlines, but making a positive difference in the world.
The next day, I sent Denny a signed copy of the book, thanking him for making a difference and here is the letter I got back:
Thank you for my personal signed copy of Customer Love. I am honored to be included with the 24 other great stories of customer service. People try to make service complicated, but it’s really not rocket science. The recipe has two ingredients: choose your attitude each morning and anticipate your customer’s needs.
In fact, one of the things that I’ve enjoyed doing over the years is having dinner with my customers during my long layovers. It just gives me the opportunity to know their needs and determine ways we can serve them better. It also allows me to introduce my first officers to our customers, to show them how they can make a difference when they become Captains.
From a dinner with one customer I have now expanded it to having dinner with twenty customers. I frequently get asked by customers how they can book one of my flights. At first, I just let it roll off my shoulders as a silly comment, but when they kept asking, I posted one of my upcoming flights on FlyerTalk.com and 26 people booked it as a result of that post. I guess I’ll need a bigger table for this one!
Denny Flanagan is a wonderful example of customer love. In the book, I share his, and 24 other great customer service stories. My goal is to have you read them, have your team read them, and talk about them together. In fact, you may be inspired to write your own customer love stories while making your service culture all it can be.Also, if you’d like to thank Captain Flanagan for setting the example for the rest of us to follow, his email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m sure he’d love to hear from you!.
For more information on how to receive a free autographed copy of Customer Love or to look inside the book, just click here.
Serve with Passion,
Founder, Simple Truths