Hello from Dallas… except by the time you read this I’ll be back.
So, hello from wherever I am right now.
As many of you know I have a real bee in my bonnet about customer service both in terms of what’s good and what isn’t so good.
And there’s nowhere in the world quite like the good old US of A to demonstrate the extremities of both. This trip to Texas has been no disappointment in either respect; having experienced the very good and the very bad within just a couple of hours.
America is never the easiest place to get into and Dallas is no exception. In fact, it seems to have added an extra couple of layers of security since the last time I visited. Passport Control had already been negotiated (not without mishap, it has to be said: I was directed to a kiosk by a minion where the Homeland Security Guard briskly informed us that the channel was for US citizens only. When we explained we’d been directed there she went in paroxysms of rage: ‘Tony! Tony! The people said you directed them here and they’re aliens!’ I hadn’t realised I was an alien. ‘No, no I certainly didn’t direct aliens here. They’re Canadian.’)
Anyway, the situation was resolved and we collected our bags, having had passports checked again. At which point we stood in another queue where our passports and ESTA forms were to be checked again.
The gentleman in front of us, who looked like a perfectly respectable gentleman on a business trip, had the temerity to take a step off the yellow line which caused what I can only describe as a scream of anger from the Border Guard. ‘Get back behind the line!’ Only for him to be called forward two seconds later.
The guard asked ‘Have you collected your bags?’ But the poor fellow didn’t understand and said so, whereupon the guard said ‘HAVE – YOU – COLLECTED – YOUR – BAGS. Jeez, why don’t you just listen?!’
A bit flabbergasted by this I shot forward on command and prayed I didn’t get it wrong.
At a bar later in the evening I was having something to eat. Being British I had to sit outside in the 40 degree heat, much to the disapproval of everyone else. ‘Sir, you’re gonna get fried out here!’ ‘Yep, that’s the plan’.
I’d been outside for a few minutes when the waitress brought me a huge glass of water. I didn’t ask for it, but she brought it anyway saying ‘I thought if you wanted to site outside you’d like some water, too’.
Perfect service… she anticipated my needs and simply acted on her anticipation.
It struck me that Enterprise America was doing a much better job of upholding the USA’s reputation for quality service than the government, who generally made me feel unwelcome.