On Thursday morning I woke up, cracked open my laptop and checked in for my 85th flight on Delta this year. This was no ordinary flight. This flight would put me over 125,000 miles on Delta in 2011 (the earth’s circumference is 24,901 miles) and into the elite Diamond Medallion frequent flyer program.

Hitting Diamond is bitter sweet in many ways. Sure, I should get upgraded on just about every flight I take next year, but it also means that I have spent a lot of time away from my family this year and wayyyyy too much time in a confined space. Perhaps I was slap happy from all the travel… but I decided to poke Delta on Twitter about my “Up in the Air” moment.

To be honest I didn’t expect anything from them. Delta is a great airline, but I wouldn’t exactly call them playful or over the top. My impression has always been that they are very corporate, buttoned up and professional. Their customer service is strong, but their brand personality has always felt bland compared to that of Jetblue or Southwest.

Showing the Love

When I walked up to the gate there seemed to be an awful lot of Delta employees crowded around the desk. The gate attendant came on the loud speaker and announced, “Ladies and gentleman I have a very special announcement. I would like to congratulate Mr. Edward Murphy for making Diamond Medallion status. Mr. Murphy we would like to present you with a token of our appreciation.” Whaaaaaa?!?!

I walked up to the desk and was greeted by a team of Delta employees. They presented me with a framed certificate and a special Delta bag. We took pictures and all of the employees shook my hand. The entire gate area was clapping and shouting. They then provided me with a private escort onto the plane.

Once on the plane (in first class) the passengers were high-fiving me as they passed by. Each flight attendant came by to personally thank me for my business. The pilot came on the PA and congratulated me as well. I was floored. I felt like a rockstar… I was tweeting and texting my friends like crazy.

When I landed I noticed that I had a voicemail from a number I didn’t recognize. I played the message and my jaw dropped. A Delta VP called me while I was in the air apologizing that he couldn’t be at the gate, thanking me for my business and giving me his personal phone number if I should ever need him. Freakin’ awesome.

The ROI of Being Awesome

The total hard cost of everything that Delta did to celebrate my special flight was probably about $50 (for the certificate, frame and bag). All the employees were already at work; so was the person manning their Twitter account. I figure I spend about $30,000 a year on flights and I am now a customer for life. Not a bad return on investment for a little extra effort. Not only did they win me over for life, but my tweets reached my 27k followers and I have a feeling at least some of them will be making a switch soon.

Employees Love to Delight

You could tell from the Delta employees that this is not something that Delta does every day… but they should. The employees were genuinely happy for me and excited to be celebrating the occasion with me. Not only was I thrilled with the experience, they were to. They were proud to be associated with a company that would do something so cool for a customer. Empowering employees to take care of customers truly delights both parties.

What Can Your Company Do?

What Delta did for me didn’t cost a lot of money. It didn’t require months of planning (this all went down in a matter of hours). What it did require was listening to their customers and moving quickly to show they care.

Ted Murphy

Ted Murphy

Ted Murphy is an American entrepreneur. He is currently the Founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer of IZEA, a technology company that provides software for influencer marketing.

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