Archive for June, 2008

For America to be competitive, Americans need to be competitive

Friday, June 20th, 2008

I randomly saw this question on LinkedIn, and it intrigued me enough to write an answer. I will say, I think it’s a pretty innovative way for a presidential candidate to use the net.

What ideas do you have to keep America competitive in the years ahead?

Here is my answer, which can be found on page 40:

I think there is a fundamental conflict between trying to “protect American jobs” and “increase American competitiveness.” For America to be competitive, Americans need to be competitive. That means they need to be willing to upgrade their skills and change with the times. We need to stop putting up regulations because we are afraid of competition with foreign firms or afraid immigrants will come take our jobs. We need to drop trade barriers and relax immigration rules. Will this be hard on our citizens? Of course! But as any small business owner knows, you can’t stay competitive these days without undergoing frequent and sometimes painful change.

We can mitigate the pain by investing more heavily in education, so our citizens are individually better equipped to compete. And we can invest nationally in energy, healthcare, and technology innovation, to make sure we have the infrastructure. But in my opinion, we will not remain competitive as a nation if we overprotect our citizens.

Frontier Airlines Customer Service

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

No, that’s not an oxymoron, although a few hours ago I would have said otherwise. The web seems to abound with stories of disgruntled and unhappy customers, and this was almost one of them. But this story has a happy ending.

I bought a salad in the airport, to eat for dinner on the 5:50pm Frontier flight from DEN to SFO. Unfortunately, I left on the seat next to me at the gate. I remembered it just as I boarded the plane, but the flight attendant refused to let me leave the plane to go get it, citing “security”. WTF?

My salad was about 20 yards away. There was 20 minutes before departure. I and the salad had both passed security screening. What possible security problem could there be? I was stunned. The plane wasn’t even full, there was no backup on the jetway. I even went back to the front after everyone was on, with at least 5 minutes before the door was shut, and was not allowed to get off for the 60 seconds it would have taken to get my salad.

I was hungry and pissed off for the first hour of the flight. I composed the first draft of this blog post, ripping them a new one about “security theatre” and other crap. Then the flight attendant who had refused me dropped a folded note on my tray table (I was working and had headphones on). The note said on the outside “My Apologies”, and inside read:

Sir:

After reviewing the regulations regarding passenger deplaning and reboarding, my interpretation was not correct.

Please accept my apology, and use these free DirecTV coupons to help pay for the dinner you left in Denver.

What’s more, he even signed it with his full name and employee number. Wow! I have to say, I really appreciate when people have enough self esteem to question themselves, do some research, and then own up to being wrong and try to make it right.

I am now a big fan of Frontier Airlines, because not only have they trained their people to provide genuinely good service, but they seem to foster a culture of learning from mistakes. And while in any customer service training course you can read stories like this one, they don’t happen as often in real life as they should, and they should be rewarded. I look forward to flying Frontier again!