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The Soda Can Tab Technique

November 15, 2014

By Laurie Clarke, Chief Operating Officer

Soda Can

I travel a lot and have bumped up against most traveling woes.  But really, who can complain about two to fifteen hours of quiet, uninterrupted ‘me’ time?  And as someone who has a deep understanding and appreciation for systems and the challenges that some work environments can present, I don’t get flustered by delays or situations beyond the control of an apologetic flight attendant.

Yet on this one late night flight, I found myself slightly annoyed by how absolutely nothing in my seat worked.  The power plug was broken, the seat didn’t recline, the tray sagged…

Finally, I chose to bring all the malfunctions to the attention of a flight attendant, without any expectation for resolve.  She apologized and returned moments later with the tab from a soda can.  “I can’t fix the other things but this is a great temporary fix for your tray.”  She plugs the tab into the hinge of the tray and voila, the tray is in working order.

Once again a great reminder of how people who deal with customers every day find work arounds to compensate for the broken systems/situations they run into.

Do you have a similar story to share where you have used/seen someone use creativity to overcome a barrier for a customer?

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  • Laurie,
    What a terrific example of how front-line workers can transform customer experience! I have found that an empowering discussion with the first-touch team helped to reduce hand-offs and call backs. We ensured everyone that touches our customers is well versed in customer care, and has the authority to make reasonable/immediate remediation for service ‘failures’. I will be using your example at my next lunch & learn!

    Dr. Gail

    • Tatham Group

      Thank you for the comment Dr. Gail. The people closest to the customer always have the best ideas on how to make the experience better!